The Importance of Staying Nourished After Spine Surgery

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 12, 2016

Diet after spinal surgery

Any surgery, big or small, takes a large toll on your body. You should strive for vitamins and nutrients from each food group every day, but that sentiment is especially true in the days and weeks leading up to and directly after surgery. Not only will adequate nutrition help your spine surgery heal, it can also help keep you from needing to be readmitted to the hospital or surgical center.

How Nutrition Impacts Spine Surgery Success

New research published in Spine examined how a patient’s preoperative nutritional status affected their 30-day hospital readmission rate after elective spine surgery. 145 patients participated in the study, and researchers analyzed their nutritional levels by checking for a simple protein called albumin. Here’s what they uncovered:

  • 28 percent of patients expressed what researchers defined as low levels of albumin. They were given the classification “malnourished.”
  • The malnourished patients were more likely to report postoperative complications compared to the appropriately-nourished group.
  • One of the biggest takeaways was that malnourished patients who underwent spine surgery had much longer average hospital stay – 8.67 days compared to 3.8 days – than patients who were well-nourished.
  • Overall, 14.48 percent of patients needed to be re-admitted to the hospital within 30 days of their discharge after spine surgery. Malnourished patients were three times more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge than well-nourished individuals (27.5% vs. 9.5%).

A Valuable Resource

Researchers said the findings are a valuable resource as it has identified certain markers that can be used to determine who is at-risk for hospital readmission after spinal surgery.

“Preoperative malnutrition is an independent risk factor for readmission within 30 days of discharge after elective spine surgery,” researchers wrote. “Laboratory markers of nutrition can identify patients at risk of unplanned hospital readmission. This risk determination identifies a potentially modifiable risk factor for early readmission.”

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