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Justin S. Smith, Eric Klineberg, Virginie Lafage, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Frank Schwab, Renaud Lafage, Richard Hostin, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Thomas J. Errico, Han Jo Kim, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, D. Kojo Hamilton, Justin K. Scheer, Alex Soroceanu, Michael P. Kelly, Breton Line, Munish Gupta, Vedat Deviren, Robert Hart, Douglas C. Burton, Shay Bess, Christopher P. Ames and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

Although multiple reports have documented significant benefit from surgical treatment of adult spinal deformity (ASD), these procedures can have high complication rates. Previously reported complications rates associated with ASD surgery are limited by retrospective design, single-surgeon or single-center cohorts, lack of rigorous data on complications, and/or limited follow-up. Accurate definition of complications associated with ASD surgery is important and may serve as a resource for patient counseling and efforts to improve the safety of patient care. The authors conducted a study to prospectively assess the rates of complications associated with ASD surgery with a minimum 2-year follow-up based on a multicenter study design that incorporated standardized data-collection forms, on-site study coordinators, and regular auditing of data to help ensure complete and accurate reporting of complications. In addition, they report age stratification of complication rates and provide a general assessment of factors that may be associated with the occurrence of complications.

METHODS

As part of a prospective, multicenter ASD database, standardized forms were used to collect data on surgery-related complications. On-site coordinators and central auditing helped ensure complete capture of complication data. Inclusion criteria were age older than 18 years, ASD, and plan for operative treatment. Complications were classified as perioperative (within 6 weeks of surgery) or delayed (between 6 weeks after surgery and time of last follow-up), and as minor or major. The primary focus for analyses was on patients who reached a minimum follow-up of 2 years.

RESULTS

Of 346 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 291 (84%) had a minimum 2-year follow-up (mean 2.1 years); their mean age was 56.2 years. The vast majority (99%) had treatment including a posterior procedure, 25% had an anterior procedure, and 19% had a 3-column osteotomy. At least 1 revision was required in 82 patients (28.2%). A total of 270 perioperative complications (145 minor; 125 major) were reported, with 152 patients (52.2%) affected, and a total of 199 delayed complications (62 minor; 137 major) were reported, with 124 patients (42.6%) affected. Overall, 469 complications (207 minor; 262 major) were documented, with 203 patients (69.8%) affected. The most common complication categories included implant related, radiographic, neurological, operative, cardiopulmonary, and infection. Higher complication rates were associated with older age (p = 0.009), greater body mass index (p ≤ 0.031), increased comorbidities (p ≤ 0.007), previous spine fusion (p = 0.029), and 3-column osteotomies (p = 0.036). Cases in which 2-year follow-up was not achieved included 2 perioperative mortalities (pulmonary embolus and inferior vena cava injury).

CONCLUSIONS

This study provides an assessment of complications associated with ASD surgery based on a prospective, multicenter design and with a minimum 2-year follow-up. Although the overall complication rates were high, in interpreting these findings, it is important to recognize that not all complications are equally impactful. This study represents one of the most complete and detailed reports of perioperative and delayed complications associated with ASD surgery to date. These findings may prove useful for treatment planning, patient counseling, benchmarking of complication rates, and efforts to improve the safety and cost-effectiveness of patient care.