Survey regarding prevention of surgical site infection after orthopaedic surgery in Belgium: are we on the right track?


Surgical site infection; preventive measures; perioperative management for wound; national survey

Published online: Feb 17 2023

Mathieu Raad, Maïte Van Cauter, Christine Detrembleur, Olivier Cornu, Guillaume Vandemeulebroecke

From the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, Service d’orthopédie et de traumatologie de l’appareil locomoteur, Brussels, Belgium


Prevention strategies are essential to reduce the rate of surgical site infection (SSI) in orthopaedic surgery. Members of the Royal Belgian Society for Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology (SORBCOT) and the Belgische Vereniging voor Orthopedie en Traumatologie (BVOT) were asked to answer a 28-question questionnaire on the internet about the application of surgical antimicrobial prophylaxis measures and to compare them with current inter- national recommendations. 228 practicing orthopedic surgeons responded to the survey from different regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels), different hospitals (university, public and private), different levels of experience (< 5 years, 5 to 10 years and > 10 years) and different subspecialties (lower limb, upper limb and spine). Regarding the questionnaire: 7% systematically perform a dental check-up. 47.8% of the participants never carry out a urinalysis, 41.7% when the patient presents symptoms and 10.5% carry it out systematically. 2.6% systematically propose a pre-operative nutritional assessment. 5.3% of respondents suggest stopping biotherapies (Remicade®, Humira®, rituximab®, etc.) before an operation and 43.9% do not feel comfortable with this type of treatment. 47.1% suggest smoking cessation before the operation and 22% of them advise smoking cessation for a period of 4 weeks. 54.8% never carry out MRSA screening. 68.3% systematically per- formed hair removal, 18.5% when the patient had hirsutism. Among them, 17.7% use shaving with razors. Alcoholic Isobetadine is the most used product with 69.3% when disinfecting the surgical site. 42.1% of the surgeons chose a delay between the injection of antibiotic prophylaxis and the incision of less than 30 minutes, 55.7% between 30 and 60 minutes and 2.2% between 60 and 120 minutes. However, 44.7% did not wait for the injection time to be respected before incising. An incise drape is used in 79.8% of cases. The response rate was not influenced by the surgeon’s experience. Most international recommendations in terms of prevention of surgical site infection are correctly applied. However, some bad habits are maintained. These include the use of shaving for depilation and the use of non-impregnated adhesive drapes. Practices that could be improved include management of treatment in patients with rheumatic diseases, a 4-week smoking cessation period, and treating positive urine tests only when symptomatic.