Infection rate after spine surgery in cerebral palsy is high and impairs results: Multicenter analysis of risk factors and treatment

Paul D. Sponseller, Suken A. Shah, Mark F. Abel, Peter O. Newton, Lynn Letko, Michelle Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infection is a serious complication of surgery to correct scoliosis in patients with cerebral palsy (CP). We obtained multicenter representative figures for deep and superficial infection rates, analyzed risk factors and treatment outcomes, and compared deformity correction relative to infection. We retrospectively reviewed 157 patients who had posterior spinal fusion for CP at one of eight centers. Preoperative and intraoperative variables were subjected to multivariate analysis to determine factors predictive of infection. There were 16 wound infections (10%; nine deep, seven superficial). Only two study factors predicted infection: higher preoperative white blood cell count (8.5 versus 6.4 [in those without infection] × 10 3 ) and use of a unit rod (15% versus 5% for bent rods). Fourteen patients underwent irrigation and débridement procedures. Five infections required 2 months or longer to resolve. Two had implant removal. Final curve correction was lower for those with deep infections than those without (67% versus 53%, respectively). We noted a trend toward greater percentages of pain at last followup in those with deep infection than in those without infection (50% versus 18%, respectively) but the study was not adequately powered to confirm this point. Our infection rate in scoliosis surgery for CP was higher than that for most elective spinal deformity surgery. Level of Evidence: Level III, retrospective case-control study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-716
Number of pages6
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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