Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) is a popular treatment to heal infected wounds. This meta-analysis aimed to determine if NPWT was more effective than conventional wound dressings for surgical site infections (SSI) in varied orthopaedic surgeries. Literature was retrieved from seven electronic databases (Medline, Web of Science, PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar, Cochrane Library, and CNKI). Randomised control trials (RCT) and retrospective cohort studies (RS) involving arthroplasty, fracture, and spinal surgery were extracted. SSI was our primary outcome, while total complications and length of hospital stay were secondary outcomes. We carried out the risk of bias assessment and meta-analysis using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2.0 tool and Stata 17.0. Among the 798 studies retrieved, 18 of them met our inclusion criteria. We identified 13 RCTs and 5 RSs. The results of meta-analysis showed that the incidence of SSI in the NPWT group was significantly lower relative to the control group (OR = 0.60, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.77, P < 0.001). Subgroup analyses revealed that the incidences of SSI involving arthroplasty, fracture, and spinal surgery in the NPWT group accounted for 46%, 69%, and 37% relative to the control group, respectively. The incidence of SSI in RS (OR = 0.27, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.56) was significantly lower than that in RCT (OR = 0.69, 95% CI 0.54 to 0.90) (P = 0.02). Moreover, patients in the NPWT group had a lower total complication rate (OR = 0.51, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.76) and shorter hospital stays (SMD = -0.42, 95% CI -0.83 to -0.02), although high heterogeneity existed. NPWT may be an efficient alternative to help prevent the incidence of SSI and total complications as well as achieved shorten hospital stay in varied orthopaedic surgeries. The rational use of NPWT should be based on the presence of patients’ clinical conditions and relevant risk factors.