Thoracic and lumbar spine surgical procedures are performed for a variety of pathologies. The literature consists of multiple retrospective reviews examining complication prevalence with the surgical treatment of these disorders. However, there is limited direct examination of perioperative complications through a prospective approach. Of the prospective assessments, the majority focuses on specific surgical procedures or provides a limited assessment of certain spinal implants. Prospective assessments of complication incidence in broad patient populations are limited. This article analyzes a prospectively collected database of patients who underwent a thoracic and/or lumbar spine surgery at a large tertiary care center and the effect of surgical approach (anterior or posterior) on the incidence of early complications.Data collection was performed prospectively on 128 patients on the neurosurgical spine service at Thomas Jefferson University hospital from May to December 2008. Data on preoperative diagnosis, medical comorbidities, body mass index, surgical approach and procedure, length of stay, and complication occurrence was recorded and analyzed. Acute complications or adverse events occurring within the initial 30 days after each operative procedure were included. All medical adverse events were included as complications. A previously circumstantiated binary definition of major and minor complications was used to stratify the data.Overall, 76 of 128 patients (59.4%) in this cohort experienced at least one complication. Anterior thoracic and lumbar procedures had an 83.3% (5/6) incidence of complications. Of those patients having solely a posterior thoracic and lumbar procedures, 37 of 75 (49.3%) experienced at least one complication. Combined anterior and posterior surgical procedure had a complication incidence of 34 of 47 (72.3%). The mean number of complications reached significance for the minor and overall complications groups (P = .0076 and .0172, respectively, Poisson regression). Comparing the incidence of complications reveals the overall complications in the posterior alone group compared with the anterior/posterior combined group was significantly lower (P = .0134). Those undergoing instrumented fusions were statistically more likely to encounter complications (P < .001).There is a considerably higher complication incidence than previously reported for thoracic, thoracolumbar, and lumbar spine operations. A prospective approach and a broad definition of perioperative complications increased the recorded incidence of perioperative adverse events and complications. The case complexity of a tertiary referral center may also have escalated the increased incidence. Complications were more common in patients undergoing anterior and anterior/posterior procedures.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.wneu.2010.01.024
View details for Web of Science ID 000292775600059
View details for PubMedID 20849799