How Surgeons Predict Complication Likelihood After Spine Surgery

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

spine surgery complications

A new study using data from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Project showcased how surgeons can use risk-modeling guidelines to predict a person’s likelihood of complications after spine surgery.

For the study, researchers examined data from more than 22,300 spine surgeries. Patients were evaluated for 20 risk factors that health experts agree increase a person’s likelihood of developing complications after surgery. Although all 20 factors weren’t listed, some of the risk factors included obesity, diabetes, high-blood pressure or related co-morbidities. A patient was given one point for each present risk factor. The highest score in the cohort was 13, and the lowest was 0.

Spine Surgery Complication Index

After examining the data, researchers uncovered:

  • The overall complication rate was 9.9 percent.
  • The most common complications were: Postoperative bleeding requiring transfusion (4.1 percent), Non-wound infections, (3.1 percent) and wound-related infections (2.2 percent).
  • The average patient scored 4 points on the risk assessment analysis.
  • About 3 percent of patients with a 0 score reported complications, while 18.5 percent of patients with a score between 5 and 13 reported complications.
  • The risk model projected that 63.3 percent of patients scoring a 12 would suffer complications.
  • All parties who scored a 13 reported complications.

Aside from predicting complications of spinal surgery, researchers say the risk-assessment model can predict other adverse outcomes, like length of hospital stay, mortality and total work-relative units needed at the hospital to treat the patient during their entire stay. Researchers concluded similar models can help predict complications and other potential factors that should be discussed with a patient prior to surgery.

“Patient-specific risk factors including comorbidities are strongly associated with surgical complications, length of stay, cost of care and mortality in spine surgery and can be used to develop risk models that are highly predictive of complications,” researchers concluded.

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