(HealthDay News) – For patients who undergo instrumented spinal fusion, the rates of infection are higher among those who receive posterior lumbar interbody fusion compared with those who receive posterior or posterolateral fusion.

Dong Ki Ahn, MD of the Seoul Sacred Heart General Hospital in Korea, and associates conducted a retrospective analysis of 3,084 patients who had instrumental spinal fusion surgeries between 2000–2009. The difference in the rates and characteristics of surgical site infections were compared for patients who underwent posterior or posterolateral fusion (Group I; 974 patients) and those who underwent posterior lumbar interbody fusion (Group II; 2,110 patients).

The researchers observed a significant difference in the infection rate between groups I and II (0.3 vs. 1.37%; P=0.003). Of the infections in group I, 67% were wound infections and 33% were osteomyelitis. The infections in group II were mainly osteomyelitis (73%), with 23% wound infections and 4% osteomyelitis combined with wound infection. In the single cage group and mainly local bone grafted group, there was a significantly increased infection rate.

“The infection rate of posterior lumbar interbody fusion was higher than that of posterior or posterolateral fusion,” the authors write.

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