Document Type


Publication Date



Introduction: The use of internal fixation devices in spinal surgery is common to achieve reduction, maintain alignment, and stabilize the spine while fusion occurs. Infection rates of less than 2% (0-2%) were reported in the late 1960's without the use of instrumentation. Reported rates of infection following instrumented fusion are generally around 6% (range 0-11% ). The purpose of this study was to retrospectively review the incidence of postoperative infection following instrumented spinal fusion to determine if infection rates related to patient type and surgical procedure.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of 129 consecutive cases of instrumented lumbar spinal fusion. Three patients were eliminated from the study: two due to preoperative spinal infections, and a third patient expired from unrelated disease. All instrumented fusion cases were eligible for this study regardless of level or technique used.

Results: Of the 126 instrumented cases there were no superficial infections, and one (0.8%) deep infection. The infection was completely resolved and did not prevent solid fusion with good alignment. The patient was a smoker and received autograft bone.

Discussion: The results of this review revealed substantially lower rates of postoperative infection following instrumented fusion than has been previously reported in the literature. No superficial and one (0.8%) deep infection was identified. Due to the low infection rates, no statistically significant conclusions could be made.