Previous studies have suggested the possibility of racial disparities in surgical outcomes for patients undergoing spine surgery, although this has not been thoroughly investigated in those with spinal metastases. Given the increasing prevalence of spinal metastases requiring intervention, knowledge about potential discrepancies in outcomes would benefit overall patient care. The objective in the present study was to investigate whether race was an independent predictor of postoperative complications, nonroutine discharge, and prolonged length of stay (LOS) after surgery for spinal metastasis.
The authors retrospectively examined patients at a single comprehensive cancer center who had undergone surgery for spinal metastasis between April 2013 and April 2020. Demographic information, primary pathology, preoperative clinical characteristics, and operative outcomes were collected. Factors achieving p values < 0.15 on univariate regression were entered into a stepwise multivariable logistic regression to generate predictive models. Nonroutine discharge was defined as a nonhome discharge destination and prolonged LOS was defined as LOS greater than the 75th percentile for the entire cohort.
Three hundred twenty-eight patients who had undergone 348 operations were included: 240 (69.0%) White and 108 (31.0%) Black. On univariable analysis, cohorts significantly differed in age (p = 0.02), marital status (p < 0.001), insurance status (p = 0.03), income quartile (p = 0.02), primary tumor type (p = 0.04), and preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score (p < 0.001). On multivariable analysis, race was an independent predictor for nonroutine discharge: Black patients had significantly higher odds of nonroutine discharge than White patients (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28–3.92, p = 0.005). Older age (AOR 1.06 per year, 95% CI 1.03–1.09, p < 0.001), preoperative KPS score ≤ 70 (AOR 3.30, 95% CI 1.93–5.65, p < 0.001), preoperative Frankel grade A–C (AOR 3.48, 95% CI 1.17–10.3, p = 0.02), insurance status (p = 0.005), being unmarried (AOR 0.58, 95% CI 0.35–0.97, p = 0.04), number of levels (AOR 1.17 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.31, p = 0.004), and thoracic involvement (AOR 1.71, 95% CI 1.02–2.88, p = 0.04) were also predictive of nonroutine discharge. However, race was not independently predictive of postoperative complications or prolonged LOS. Higher Charlson Comorbidity Index (AOR 1.22 per point, 95% CI 1.04–1.43, p = 0.01), low preoperative KPS score (AOR 1.84, 95% CI 1.16–2.92, p = 0.01), and number of levels (AOR 1.15 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.27, p = 0.004) were predictive of complications, while insurance status (p = 0.05), income quartile (p = 0.01), low preoperative KPS score (AOR 1.64, 95% CI 1.03–2.72, p = 0.05), and number of levels (AOR 1.16 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.30, p = 0.004) were predictive of prolonged LOS.
Race, insurance status, age, baseline functional status, and marital status were all independently associated with nonroutine discharge. This suggests that a combination of socioeconomic factors and functional status, rather than medical comorbidities, may best predict postdischarge disposition in patients treated for spinal metastases. Further investigation in a prospective cohort is merited.