The Importance Of Weight Control Before Spine Surgery

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 14, 2017

Weight Control Spine Surgery

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for a number of reasons. Aside from helping to promote good overall health, weight also plays an important factor in the success of some surgical operations, especially as we get older. Today, we take a closer look at the role weight and obesity plays in spine surgery success in elderly patients.

Spine Surgery and Obesity

To better understand how obesity impacted spine surgery success rates, researchers conducted a retrospective review. More specifically, they wanted to learn how obesity affected the 90-day complication rates and 30-day readmission rates following 1- and 2-level lumbar spinal fusion surgery in elderly patients. Researchers were curious about the findings because both elderly patients and obese patients are at a greater risk for needing a corrective lumbar operation.

For their study, researchers grouped elderly patients who underwent either lumbar procedure into one of three groups:

  • Obese
  • Morbidly obese
  • Nonobese controls

After separating the patients into the three groups, researchers examined 90-day medical and surgical complication rates, 30-day readmission rates, length of hospital stay and average cost of stay. The numbers were then compared between the three groups.

Spine Study Results

Not surprisingly, the nonobese patients had much better surgical success rates and fewer instances of complications compared to their obese and morbidly obese counterparts. Here’s a closer look:

  • Obese individuals were 32 percent more likely to experience any one major medical complication compared to nonobese individuals. Morbidly obese individuals were 79 percent more likely.
  • Obese individuals were more than two times more likely to suffer from wound infection than a healthy control, and that number rose to nearly four times as likely for morbidly obese patients.
  • Obese patients were 2.5 times more likely to have their surgical wound reopen compared to healthy controls, and morbidly obese individuals were 3.8 times more likely.
  • Morbidly obese patients average a higher rate of 30-day readmission, a longer average hospital stay, and more in-hospital costs than health spine surgery patients. In fact, the average morbidly obese patient incurred an average of nearly $8,000 more than healthy patients in surgery-related expenses.

“Patients with both obesity and morbid obesity are at significantly increased risk of major medical complications, wound complications, and 30-day readmissions,” researchers wrote. “Additionally, both groups of patients have significantly increased lengths of stay and hospital costs.”

They concluded that obese and morbidly obese patients should take some preventative steps prior to undergoing surgery. Diet and exercise is a great start to help get weight under control, but patients should also consult with spine surgeons and other specialists to ensure they understand the true risk of the operation and what countermeasures they can take in the days leading up to surgery.

Minnesota Back Surgeon

These results are not isolated to a lumbar fusion operation, and weight management is key for any patient considering surgery. If you are wondering what steps you should take before a back operation, contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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