An analysis of two U.S. payor databases has found a 3.11% infection rate for spinal cord stimulation (SCS) implants, with age, peripheral vascular disease and history of infection identified as risk factors.
According to the study’s authors, when compared with rates of infection for total joint replacement and pacemaker surgeries, the data reflect a need for improvement of infection control practices. A recent international survey on infection control practices for SCS demonstrated low compliance with evidence-based guidelines (Neuromodulation 2016;19:71-84)
Elderly patients were less likely to have infection. For each additional year of age, patients were 3.2% less likely to have an infection.
For both logistic regression and survival analyses, expected risk factors such as obesity, diabetes and smoking were not shown to be risk factors for infection.
“It’s interesting that the SCS infection rate is higher than the 2% rate for pacemakers,” Dr. Eisenach said. “It’s possible that there is a difference related to sterile technique.”