Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 160, Issue 3, pp 497–503 | Cite as

Bacterial colonisation of suture material after routine neurosurgical procedures: relevance for wound infection

  • Bujung Hong
  • Andreas Winkel
  • Philipp Ertl
  • Sascha Nico Stumpp
  • Kerstin Schwabe
  • Meike Stiesch
  • Joachim K. Krauss
Original Article - Neurosurgical Anatomy



Wound healing impairment is a serious problem in surgical disciplines which may be associated with chronic morbidity, increased cost and patient discomfort. Here we aimed to investigate the relevance of bacterial colonisation on suture material using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect and taxonomically classify bacterial DNA in patients with and without wound healing problems after routine neurosurgical procedures.


Repeat surgery was performed in 25 patients with wound healing impairment and in 38 patients with well-healed wounds. To determine the presence of bacteria, a 16S rDNA-based PCR detection method was applied. Fragments of 500 bp were amplified using universal primers which target hypervariable regions within the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. Amplicons were separated from each other by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis, and finally classified using Sanger sequencing.


PCR/SSCP detected DNA of various bacteria species on suture material in 10/38 patients with well-healed wounds and in 12/25 patients with wound healing impairment including Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Propionibacterium acnes and Escherichia coli. Microbiological cultures showed bacterial growth in almost all patients with wound healing impairment and positive results in PCR/SSCP (10/12), while this was the case in only one patient with a well-healed wound (1/10).


Colonisation of suture material with bacteria occurs in a relevant portion of patients with and without wound healing impairment after routine neurosurgical procedures. Suture material may provide a nidus for bacteria and subsequent biofilm formation. Most likely, however, such colonisation of sutures is not a general primer for subsequent wound infection.


Bacterial colonisation Suture material Polymerase chain reaction Wound healing 



No funding was received for this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organisation or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Ethical approval

For this type of study formal approval is not required at our institution.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryHannover Medical SchoolHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Department of Prosthetic Dentistry and Biomedical Material ScienceHannover Medical SchoolHannoverGermany

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