A prospective randomized clinical study.
To determine whether shaving the incision site before spinal surgery causes postsurgical infection.
Summary of Background Data.
Spine surgeons usually shave the skin of the incision site immediately before surgery is performed. However, evidence from some surgical series suggests that presurgical shaving may increase the postsurgical infection rate. To our knowledge, no previously published studies have addressed this issue.
A total of 789 patients scheduled to undergo spinal surgery were randomly allocated into 2 groups: those in whom the site of operation was shaved immediately before surgery (shaved group; 371 patients) and the patients in whom presurgical shaving was not performed (unshaved group; 418 patients). The mean duration of anesthesia and the infection rates in both groups were recorded and compared.
The duration of anesthesia did not differ in the 2 groups (P > 0.05). A postoperative infection developed in 4 patients in the shaved group and in 1 patient in the nonshaved group (P < 0.01).
The shaving of the incision site immediately before spinal surgery may increase the rate of postoperative infection.