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Case Reports in Surgery
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 321682, 5 pages
Case Report

Application of Intrawound Vancomycin Powder during Spine Surgery in a Patient with Dialysis-Dependent Renal Failure

1Department of Neurosurgery, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA 02111, USA
2Department of Neurosurgery, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA
3Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Received 27 February 2015; Accepted 15 June 2015

Academic Editor: Giovanni Mariscalco

Copyright © 2015 Jackson Kim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Surgical site infections (SSIs) after spinal surgery are a serious complication that can be minimized with prophylaxis. Vancomycin is a common agent used in the prevention of SSI. Given that vancomycin is renally cleared, its use requires careful observation in dialysis-dependent patients due to toxicity at supratherapeutic levels. Since minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) for vancomycin have increased due to the emergence of resistant pathogens, the use of vancomycin in such patients is further complicated. Local instillation of vancomycin powder is thought to provide additional protection against SSI and have lower systemic absorption. We present a patient with end-stage renal disease that developed progressively debilitating cervical spondylotic myelopathy necessitating multilevel laminectomy and instrumented fusion. Prior to closure, 1 gram of vancomycin powder was sprinkled into the surgical incision. Postoperative serum vancomycin levels were well below those associated with nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity. Based on this experience, we reviewed the relevant guidelines that were designed to prevent postoperative infections in such dialysis-dependent patients. Intrawound application of vancomycin may be a legitimate and safe option for SSI prophylaxis in patients with renal failure on dialysis.