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A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that occurs after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place.1,2 National rates of SSI in children range from 1.8%3 to 2.5%.4 However, SSI rates vary according to the specific center and also according to the type of surgery.4 Surgical procedures with elevated rates of SSI in children include cardiothoracic (2.3–5%),5 neurosurgical ventricular shunt (5.7–10.4%),6 and spinal fusion (4.4–10.2%).7–9

For the individual, an SSI can lead to prolongation of the hospital stay, additional surgical interventions, the risk of further complications, and unnecessary pain and anxiety. For society, the treatment of these largely preventable complications substantially increases the overall cost of healthcare.10–13

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), via the National Healthcare Safety Network, maintains a standard definition of SSI, enabling research and improvement efforts into prevention of SSI2 (see also Table 73-1 and Figure 73-1). In 2017 the definition was updated, reducing the length of surveillance for SSI following certain procedures.2

TABLE 73-1Criteria for Defining Surgical Site Infections
FIGURE 73-1.

Cross section of abdominal wall depicting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifications of surgical site infection.

Several factors are used ...

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