Infections in the spinal cord-injured population: A systematic review

L. Y. Garcia-Arguello, J. C. O'Horo, A. Farrell, R. Blakney, M. R. Sohail, C. T. Evans, N. Safdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Study Design: Spinal cord injury (SCI) patients are an increasing population due to recent military conflicts. SCI patients are at an increased risk of infection, but the epidemiology management and prevention strategies for these infections are unclear. Objective: To review the incidence, microbiology and management of pneumonia, skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI), urinary tract infections (UTI) and bloodstream infections in the SCI population via literature review. Methods: With the assistance of an experienced medical librarian, we developed a search strategy for the Ovid MEDLINE database and then adapted it for the Ovid Embase, Scopus and Web of Science databases. The databases were searched from their inception to April 2014 with no restrictions on language or time period. Data were extracted using a standardized form. All studies were reviewed by two independent investigators. Results: Forty-one studies reporting on the described infections were identified. UTIs were the most commonly identified infections, but studies failed to identify consistently effective preventive strategies. SSTIs were also common, and the best preventive strategies focused on decubitus ulcer prevention and skin decolonization protocols. Pneumonia management and course were not significantly different from the general population. Bloodstream infections were associated with delays in recognition, and were most often secondary to UTI, pneumonia or SSTI. Conclusion: There is a paucity of literature on consistently effective infection prevention strategies in SCI patients. Identification and implementation of evidence-based interventions that optimize prevention and management of infections in this patient population are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-534
Number of pages9
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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