Body mass index and risk of surgical site infection following spine surgery: a meta-analysis

Type Article

Journal Article


D. Y. Abdallah; M. M. Jadaan; J. P. McCabe

Year of publication










PURPOSE: Inconsistent results have been reported in the literature on the association between obesity, expressed as increased body mass index (BMI), and risk for surgical site infection (SSI) following spine surgery. The objective of this study was to review and quantify the association between increased BMI and risk of spinal SSI in adults. METHODS: We performed a comprehensive search for relevant studies using PubMed, Embase, and references of published manuscripts. Study-specific risk measures were transformed into slope estimates and combined using the random effects meta-analysis model to establish the risk of SSI associated with every 5-unit increase in BMI. RESULTS: Thirty-four articles underwent full-text review. Variations were noted among these studies in relation to SSI diagnosis criteria and BMI cut-off levels used to define obesity. Data from 12 retrospective studies were included in the analyses. Results showed that BMI was significantly positively associated with the risk of spinal SSI. Unadjusted risk estimates demonstrated that a 5-unit increase in BMI was associated with 13 % increased risk of SSI [Crude odds ratio (OR): 1.13; 95 % CI: 1.07-1.19, p < 0.0001]. Pooling of risk estimates adjusted for diabetes and other confounders resulted in a 21 % increase in risk of spinal SSI for every 5-unit increase in BMI (adjusted OR: 1.21; 95 % CI 1.13-1.29, p < 0.0001). CONCLUSION: Higher BMI is associated with the increased risk of SSI following spine surgery. Prospective studies are needed to confirm this association and to determine whether other measures of fat distribution are better predictors of risk of SSI.