Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Global Spine J


skin closure; spine surgery; wound closure; wound complication; wound infection


Study Design: Systematic review.

Objectives: In patients undergoing posterior spinal fusion: (1) What are the types and risks of wound complications in major (≥3 levels) surgery, and does the risk vary by number of levels fused? (2) What types of fascial closure result in the fewest wound complications? (3) What subcutaneous closure technique is more effective in preventing wound complications for obese patients (body mass index >30 kg/m

Methods: Electronic databases and reference lists of key articles were searched from January 1, 2000 to December 4, 2017 to identify studies meeting inclusion criteria.

Results: Six lower quality retrospective studies (evidence level III) met the inclusion criteria. The risk of wound complications in patients with ≥3 level posterior spine fusion ranges from 1.5% to 3.7% depending on the definition of wound complications. Skin closure with sutures resulted in fewer wound infections compared with staples (0.0% vs 8.0%,

Conclusions: We were unable to determine if infection risk changed with increasing number of levels fused. There is a lack of evidence for optimal wound closure technique in posterior spine surgery. Several questions still remain unanswered, such as the optimal fascial closure technique or the optimal subcutaneous closure technique in obese patients.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)