Thickness of the Subcutaneous Fat as a Risk Factor for Surgical Site Infection Following Fragility Hip Fracture Surgery

Tal Frenkel Rutenberg, Rotem Markman, Ran Rutenberg, Efrat Daglan, Tomer Rubin, Shai Shemesh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Surgical site infection (SSI) following fragility hip fracture (FHF) surgery is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Significance: Prediction of patients at risk for SSI is fundamental. We aimed to determine whether subcutaneous radiographic fat measurement (SRM) is associated with increased SSI risk. Methods: A retrospective case-control comparison of SRMs at 3 locations around the hip. Patients diagnosed with SSI in the first post-operative year were matched with age, gender, surgical year, Charlsons’ co-morbidity index score, and surgical type controls, not diagnosed with SSI, at a 1:2 ratio. Measurements included the distance between (1) the sourcil to skin surface (SS), (2) the tip of the greater trochanter to skin surface (TGTS), and (3) the most prominent lateral aspect of the greater trochanter to skin surface. Results: 1430 patients were operated during the study period, of whom 45 patients presented with a diagnosis of SSI and compared to 90 controls. Infections occurred 27.4 (± 24.8) days following surgery. SRM significantly differed between groups, and all were higher in the study group; SS, 86.8 ± 25.5 cm vs 74.2 ± 15.3 cm; TGTS, 59.8 ± 26.3 cm vs 47.0 ± 15.8 cm; and LGTS, 45.4 ± 25.1 cm vs 33.2 ± 15.1 cm (P =.003,.004, and.004, respectively). Intraclass correlation coefficients (intra-rater) were high for all measurements (.999 for all). Intraclass correlation coefficients (inter-rater) for SS, TGTS and LGTS were high,.749 (.663.815),.792 (.719.847) and.817 (.751.866), respectively. Conclusions: SRMs were found to be a valid and reproducible tool for predicting high risk of SSI in geriatric patients sustaining FHFs. Level of Evidence: III.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeriatric Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation
StatePublished - 8 Feb 2022


  • hip fracture
  • post-operative infection
  • proximal femoral fractures
  • subcutaneous radiographic fat measurements
  • surgical site infection


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