Intrathecal baclofen (ITB) therapy is an effective treatment for spasticity and dystonia in children with cerebral palsy (CP). However, ITB pump surgery is associated with one of the highest rates of surgical site infection (SSI) in medicine, leading to significant morbidity and expense. Surgical protocols have reduced the rate of SSI in children with other CNS implants, and single-center protocols have been effective in ITB surgery in pediatrics. The authors describe the first multicenter quality improvement (QI)-driven standardized protocol for ITB pump surgery in children with CP across the Cerebral Palsy Research Network (CPRN), implemented with the aim of reducing ITB-associated SSI.
SSI was defined as a culture-positive infection, ITB pump system removal for suspected infection, or wound dehiscence with exposed hardware. Each center reported historical infection rates for at least 3 years before initiating the SSI protocol (preintervention phase). After initiation of a 13-step surgical protocol, a consecutive series of 130 patients undergoing 149 surgical procedures for ITB at four CPRN tertiary pediatric neurosurgery centers were prospectively enrolled at surgery during a 2-year study period (intervention phase). QI methodology was used, including development of a key driver diagram and tracking performance using run and control charts. The primary process measure goal was documented compliance with 80% of the protocol steps, and the primary outcome measure goal was a 20% reduction in 90-day infection rate. Patient characteristics were collected from the CPRN Research Electronic Data Capture registry, including age at surgery, BMI, Gross Motor Function Classification System level, and pattern of spasticity.
The aggregated preintervention 90-day ITB SSI rate was 4.9% (223 procedures) between 2014 and 2017. During the intervention phase, 136 of 149 ITB surgeries performed met inclusion criteria for analysis. The mean documented compliance rate with protocol steps was 75%, and the 90-day infection rate was 4.4%, with an average of 42 days from index surgery to infection.
This is the first multicenter QI initiative designed to reduce SSI in ITB surgery in children with CP. Ongoing enrollment and expansion of the protocol to other CPRN centers will facilitate identification of patient- and procedure-specific risk factors for SSI, and iterative plan-do-study-act cycles incorporating these data will further decrease the risk of SSI for ITB surgery in children.