Surgical site infection and dehiscence are devastating complications of surgery for spinal metastases. Wound closure involving plastic surgeons has been proposed as a strategy to lower post-operative complications. Here we investigated whether plastic surgery closure is associated with lower rates of wound complications, wound infection, and wound reoperation compared to simple closure by spine surgeons.
Patients surgically treated for metastatic tumors at a single comprehensive cancer center between April 2013-2020 were retrospectively identified. Primary pathology, demographic information, clinical characteristics, pre-operative laboratory values, tumor location, operative characteristics, and post-operative outcomes were collected. Univariable analyses used student t-tests for continuous variables and χ tests for categorical variables. Multivariable regressions were performed to control for confounders.
We included 317 patients, of which 56 underwent closure by plastic surgeons and 291 by neurosurgeons. Patients in the plastic surgery cohort were more likely to have received prior radiation to the surgical site, more often on long-term corticosteroid therapy, and more likely to have sacrococcygeal tumors. Operations involving plastic surgeons were more likely to be revision surgeries, corpectomies, and to involve a staged approach. Additionally, patients in the plastic surgery cohort had longer incision lengths, longer surgeries, greater intraoperative blood loss (IOBL), were more likely to receive transfusions, and had longer hospitalizations. Local paraspinous advancement flaps were the most common complex wound closure technique. Plastic surgery closure was not significantly associated with a difference in rates of post-operative wound complications, wound infection, or wound-related reoperations compared to simple wound closure.
We identified that patients undergoing plastic surgery wound closure had worse baseline risk, longer surgeries, greater IOBL, and longer hospitalizations compared to patients receiving simple closure. Despite their increased risk, complex wound closure did not significantly alter the rates of post-operative wound complications, wound infection, or wound-related reoperations. Consideration may be given to plastic surgery closure in patients at high risk of wound complications or with extensive wound defects.

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