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Spinal surgery has been revolutionized by advances in instrumentation, bone graft substitutes, and perioperative care. Extensive dissection, creation of large areas of dead space, and the use of instrumentation in compromised patients, however, predisposes to high rates of wound complications. Postoperative wound complications in patients undergoing complex spinal surgery can have devastating sequelae, including hardware exposure, meningitis, and unplanned reoperation. Recognition of high-risk patients and prediction of wound closure difficulties, combined with preemptive reconstructive surgical strategies may prevent complications. The purpose of this review is to discuss the principles of spine wound management and provide a synopsis of the soft tissue reconstructive strategies utilized in spinal surgery. We review the senior author's preferred reconstructive algorithm for the management of these complex wounds, in addition to outcomes data relating to the timing of reconstructive surgery.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Spine Surg

Publication Date





9 - 19