Complications after spine surgery have an impact on overall outcome and health care expenditures. The increased cost of complications is due in part to associated prolonged hospital stays. The authors propose that certain complications have a greater impact on length of stay (LOS) than others and that those complications should be the focus of future targeted prevention efforts. They conducted a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database to identify complications with the greatest impact on LOS as well as the predictive value of these complications with respect to 90-day readmission rates.Data on 249 patients undergoing spine surgery at Thomas Jefferson University from May to December 2008 were collected by a study auditor. Any complications occurring within 30 days of surgery were recorded as was overall LOS for each patient. Stepwise regression analysis was performed to determine whether specific complications had a statistically significant effect on LOS. For correlation, all readmissions within 90 days were recorded and organized by complication for comparison with those complications affecting LOS.The mean LOS for patients without postoperative complications was 6.9 days. Patients who developed pulmonary complications had an associated increase in LOS of 11.1 days (p < 0.005). The development of a urinary tract infection (UTI) was associated with an increase in LOS of 3.4 days (p = 0.002). A new neurological deficit was associated with an increase in LOS of 8.2 days (p = 0.004). Complications requiring return to the operating room (OR) showed a trend toward an increase in LOS of 4.7 days (p = 0.09), as did deep wound infections (3.3 days, p = 0.08). The most common reason for readmission was for wound drainage (n = 21; surgical drainage was required in 10 [4.01%] of these 21 cases). The most common diagnoses for readmission, in decreasing order of incidence, were categorized as hardware malpositioning (n = 4), fever (n = 4), pulmonary (n = 2), UTI (n = 2), and neurological deficit (n = 1). Complications affecting LOS were not found to be predictive of readmission (p = 0.029).Postoperative complications in patients who have undergone spine surgery are not uncommon and are associated with prolonged hospital stays. In the current cohort, the occurrence of pulmonary complications, UTI, and new neurological deficit had the greatest effect on overall LOS. Further study is required to determine the causative factors affecting readmission. These specific complications may be high-yield targets for cost reduction and/or prevention efforts.
View details for DOI 10.3171/2015.3.SPINE14318
View details for Web of Science ID 000365371900018
View details for PubMedID 26315951