European Spine Journal

, Volume 21, Supplement 4, pp 476–482 | Cite as

Prophylactic intraoperative powdered vancomycin and postoperative deep spinal wound infection: 1,512 consecutive surgical cases over a 6-year period

  • Robert W. Molinari
  • Oner A. Khera
  • William J. Molinari III
Case Report



The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of intraoperative powdered vancomycin on the rates of postoperative deep spinal wound infection. The use of intraoperative powdered vancomycin as a prophylactic measure in an attempt to reduce the incidence of postoperative spinal wound infection has not been sufficiently evaluated in the existing literature. A retrospective review of a large clinical database was performed to determine the rates of deep wound infection associated with the use of intraoperative operative site powdered vancomycin.

Materials and methods

During the period from 2005 to 2010, 1,512 consecutive spinal surgery cases were performed by the same fellowship-trained spinal surgeon (RWM) at a level 1 trauma-university medical center. One gram of powdered vancomycin was placed in all surgical sites prior to wound closure. Eight hundred forty-nine cases were uninstrumented, 478 cases were instrumented posterior thoracic or lumbar, 12 were instrumented anterior thoracic or lumbar, 126 were instrumented anterior cervical, and 47 were instrumented posterior cervical cases. Fifty-eight cases were combined anterior and posterior surgery and 87 were revision surgeries. A retrospective operative database and medical record review was performed to evaluate for evidence of postoperative deep wound infection.


15 of the 1,512 patients (0.99%) were identified as having evidence of postoperative deep wound infection. At least one pre-existing risk factor for deep infection was present in 8/15 pts (54%). Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) were the most commonly identified organisms (11/15 cases). The rate of deep wound infection was 1.20% (8/663) for instrumented spinal surgeries, and 0.82% (7/849) for uninstrumented surgeries. Deep infection occurred in only 1.23% (4/324) of multilevel instrumented posterior spinal fusions, 1.37% (1/73) of open PLIF procedures, and 1.23% (1/81) of single-level instrumented posterior fusions. Deep infection was not observed in any patient who had uninstrumented spinal fusion (0/64). The deep infection rate for revision surgeries was 1.15% (1/87) and 0.55% (1/183) for trauma surgery. Increased rates of complications related to powdered vancomycin use were not identified in this series. Conclusion

In this series of 1,512 consecutive spinal surgeries, the use of 1 g of powdered intraoperative vancomycin placed in the wound prior to wound closure appears to associated with a low rate deep spinal wound infection for both instrumented and uninstrumented cases. Rates of deep infection for instrumented fusion surgery, trauma, and revision surgery appear to be among the lowest reported in the existing literature. Further investigation of this prophylactic adjunctive measure is warranted.


Operative site vancomycin Intraoperative vancomycin Postoperative spinal operative site infection Spinal surgery infection prophylaxis 



The authors wish to thank Kimberly A. Napoli for assistance preparing this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

None of the authors has any potential conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Molinari
    • 1
  • Oner A. Khera
    • 1
  • William J. Molinari III
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedics and RehabilitationUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA

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