Neurosurgery is one of the most complex types of surgical fields, and it makes sense considering the intricacies of the spine and brain. With that said, it’s also one of the safest in terms of preventing surgical site infections. Since the development of an infection in the spine or brain can be so devastating, neurosurgery teams are some of the foremost experts in the world in reducing the risk of infection.
In fact, in a recent study involving more than 3,000 surgeries, the rate of infection for spinal surgeries was 0.87% and the risk of an SSI from a craniotomy was 1.6%. However, when diving deeper into the data, researchers found one health factor that doubles a person’s risk of dying due to a surgical site infection following one of these operations.
Reducing Neurosurgery Infection Risk
Interestingly, the factor at the heart of the study is not something that the surgical team can control. According to researchers, the factor that increased a person’s risk of dying following the development of a surgical site infection following a craniotomy or spine surgery was obesity.
“In the cranial surgery cases studied, suffering obesity doubles the death rate,” said study lead author María Pilar Chisbert, CEU-Vithas Nisa Neuroscience Chair researcher. “Regarding spine surgery, both [obesity and the presence of other infections] double the death rate.”
Researchers stopped short of explaining exactly why obesity was linked to an increased death rate following the onset of an SSI following brain or back surgery, but they did mention that the findings speak to the importance of preoperative care. Patients who may need neurosurgery should be educated on the risks associated with being obese, and doctors should work closely with patients to develop a healthcare plan in the days and weeks leading up to the operation. Patients may not be able to move from an obese to an overweight or a healthy weight classification, but any weight loss will help.
Not only will preoperative weight management help reduce the risk of complications following a surgical site infection, but it will also help get the patient into a pattern of healthy living, which will be important during their recovery from spine or brain surgery. These are important findings for both patient and provider to keep in mind in order to keep complications at a minimum following complex surgeries.
So if you want to work with a neurosurgeon who is committed to providing you with the best care and doing everything in his power to make sure you have a successful surgery, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.