Shaving Spine Incision Site Boosts Risk of Infection

Randomized study suggests shaving the incision site of spinal surgery patients poses significant infection risk

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Shaving the incision site before spinal surgery may increase the risk for postoperative infection, researchers report in the July issue of Spine.

Suat Celik, M.D., and Ayhan Kara, M.D., of Beyoglu State Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, and colleagues conducted a prospective randomized clinical trial to determine if shaving the incision site before spinal surgery increases the risk for postsurgical infection. The investigators randomized 789 patients scheduled to undergo spinal surgery to be either shaved or unshaved immediately prior to surgery.

Four incidents of postoperative infection developed in the shaved group compared to only one in the unshaved group resulting in a statistically significant difference in the rates of infection. There were no differences in the duration of anesthesia between the two groups.

"The goal of our investigation was to determine whether presurgical shaving is compulsory, but our results showed that not shaving the incision site may actually protect against postsurgical skin infection in patients who have undergone spinal surgery," the authors write. The difference in the infection rate "strongly suggests that preoperative shaving is unnecessary and needs more detailed prospective studies," they add.

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