The incidence of abdominal surgical site infections after abdominal birth defects surgery in infants: A systematic review with meta-analysis

Laurens D. Eeftinck Schattenkerk*, Gijsbert D. Musters, David J. Nijssen, Wouter J. de Jonge, Ralph de Vries, L. W. Ernest van Heurn, Joep P. M. Derikx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Background: : Surgical site infections (SSI) are a frequent and significant problem understudied in infants operated for abdominal birth defects. Different forms of SSIs exist, namely wound infection, wound dehiscence, anastomotic leakage, post-operative peritonitis and fistula development. These complications can extend hospital stay, surge medical costs and increase mortality. If the incidence was known, it would provide context for clinical decision making and aid future research. Therefore, this review aims to aggregate the available literature on the incidence of different SSIs forms in infants who needed surgery for abdominal birth defects. Method: : The electronic databases Pubmed, EMBASE, and Cochrane library were searched in February 2020. Studies describing infectious complications in infants (under three years of age) were considered eligible. Primary outcome was the incidence of SSIs in infants. SSIs were categorized in wound infection, wound dehiscence, anastomotic leakage, postoperative peritonitis, and fistula development. Secondary outcome was the incidence of different forms of SSIs depending on the type of birth defect. Meta-analysis was performed pooling reported incidences in total and per birth defect separately. Results: : 154 studies, representing 11,786 patients were included. The overall pooled percentage of wound infections after abdominal birth defect surgery was 6% (95%-CI:0.05–0.07) ranging from 1% (95% CI:0.00–0.05) for choledochal cyst surgery to 10% (95%-CI:0.06–0.15) after gastroschisis surgery. Wound dehiscence occurred in 4% (95%-CI:0.03–0.07) of the infants, ranging from 1% (95%-CI:0.00–0.03) after surgery for duodenal obstruction to 6% (95%-CI:0.04–0.08) after surgery for gastroschisis. Anastomotic leakage had an overall pooled percentage of 3% (95%-CI:0.02–0.05), ranging from 1% (95%-CI:0.00–0.04) after surgery for duodenal obstruction to 14% (95% CI:0.06–0.27) after colon atresia surgery. Postoperative peritonitis and fistula development could not be specified per birth defect and had an overall pooled percentage of 3% (95%-CI:0.01–0.09) and 2% (95%-CI:0.01–0.04). Conclusions: : This review has systematically shown that SSIs are common after correction for abdominal birth defects and that the distribution of SSI differs between birth defects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1547-1554
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

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