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Supriya Singh, Tamir Ailon, Greg McIntosh, Nicolas Dea, Jerome Paquet, Edward Abraham, Christopher S. Bailey, Michael H. Weber, Michael G. Johnson, Andrew Nataraj, R. Andrew Glennie, Najmedden Attabib, Adrienne Kelly, Hamilton Hall, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Neil Manson, Philippe Phan, Kenneth Thomas, Charles G. Fisher, and Raphaële Charest-Morin

OBJECTIVE

Time to return to work (RTW) after elective lumbar spine surgery is variable and dependent on many factors including patient, work-related, and surgical factors. The primary objective of this study was to describe the time and rate of RTW after elective lumbar spine surgery. Secondary objectives were to determine predictors of early RTW (< 90 days) and no RTW in this population.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from the multicenter Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN) surgical registry was performed to identify patients who were employed and underwent elective 1- or 2-level discectomy, laminectomy, and/or fusion procedures between January 2015 and December 2019. The percentage of patients who returned to work and the time to RTW postoperatively were calculated. Predictors of early RTW and not returning to work were determined using a multivariable Cox regression model and a multivariable logistic regression model, respectively.

RESULTS

Of the 1805 employed patients included in this analysis, 71% returned to work at a median of 61 days. The median RTW after a discectomy, laminectomy, or fusion procedure was 51, 46, and 90 days, respectively. Predictors of early RTW included male gender, higher education level (high school or above), higher preoperative Physical Component Summary score, working preoperatively, a nonfusion procedure, and surgery in a western Canadian province (p < 0.05). Patients who were working preoperatively were twice as likely to RTW within 90 days (HR 1.984, 95% CI 1.680–2.344, p < 0.001) than those who were employed but not working. Predictors of not returning to work included symptoms lasting more than 2 years, an increased number of comorbidities, an education level below high school, and an active workers’ compensation claim (p < 0.05). There were fourfold odds of not returning to work for patients who had not been working preoperatively (OR 4.076, 95% CI 3.087–5.383, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

In the Canadian population, 71% of a preoperatively employed segment returned to work after 1- or 2-level lumbar spine surgery. Most patients who undergo a nonfusion procedure RTW after 6 to 8 weeks, whereas patients undergoing a fusion procedure RTW at 12 weeks. Working preoperatively significantly increased the likelihood of early RTW.

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Christian Iorio-Morin, Charles G. Fisher, Edward Abraham, Andrew Nataraj, Najmedden Attabib, Jerome Paquet, Thomas Guy Hogan, Christopher S. Bailey, Henry Ahn, Michael Johnson, Eden A. Richardson, Neil Manson, Ken Thomas, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Hamilton Hall, and Nicolas Dea

OBJECTIVE

Lumbar discectomy (LD) is frequently performed to alleviate radicular pain resulting from disc herniation. While this goal is achieved in most patients, improvement in low-back pain (LBP) has been reported inconsistently. The goal of this study was to characterize how LBP evolves following discectomy.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected patient data from the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN) registry. Patients who underwent surgery for lumbar disc herniation were eligible for inclusion. The primary outcome was a clinically significant reduction in the back pain numerical rating scale (BPNRS) assessed at 12 months. Binary logistic regression was used to model the relationship between the primary outcome and potential predictors.

RESULTS

There were 557 patients included in the analysis. The chief complaint was radiculopathy in 85%; 55% of patients underwent a minimally invasive procedure. BPNRS improved at 3 months by 48% and this improvement was sustained at all follow-ups. LBP and leg pain improvement were correlated. Clinically significant improvement in BPNRS at 12 months was reported by 64% of patients. Six factors predicted a lack of LBP improvement: female sex, low education level, marriage, not working, low expectations with regard to LBP improvement, and a low BPNRS preoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinically significant improvement in LBP is observed in the majority of patients after LD. These data should be used to better counsel patients and provide accurate expectations about back pain improvement.

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Oliver G. S. Ayling, Raphaele Charest-Morin, Matthew E. Eagles, Tamir Ailon, John T. Street, Nicolas Dea, Greg McIntosh, Sean D. Christie, Edward Abraham, W. Bradley Jacobs, Christopher S. Bailey, Michael G. Johnson, Najmedden Attabib, Peter Jarzem, Michael Weber, Jerome Paquet, Joel Finkelstein, Alexandra Stratton, Hamilton Hall, Neil Manson, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Kenneth Thomas, and Charles G. Fisher

OBJECTIVE

Previous works investigating rates of adverse events (AEs) in spine surgery have been retrospective, with data collection from administrative databases, and often from single centers. To date, there have been no prospective reports capturing AEs in spine surgery on a national level, with comparison among centers.

METHODS

The Spine Adverse Events Severity system was used to define the incidence and severity of AEs after spine surgery by using data from the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN) prospective registry. Patient data were collected prospectively and during hospital admission for those undergoing elective spine surgery for degenerative conditions. The Spine Adverse Events Severity system defined minor and major AEs as grades 1–2 and 3–6, respectively.

RESULTS

There were 3533 patients enrolled in this cohort. There were 85 (2.4%) individual patients with at least one major AE and 680 (19.2%) individual patients with at least one minor AE. There were 25 individual patients with 28 major intraoperative AEs and 260 patients with 275 minor intraoperative AEs. Postoperatively there were 61 patients with a total of 80 major AEs. Of the 487 patients with minor AEs postoperatively there were 698 total AEs. The average enrollment was 321 patients (range 47–1237 patients) per site. The rate of major AEs was consistent among sites (mean 2.9% ± 2.4%, range 0%–9.1%). However, the rate of minor AEs varied widely among sites—from 7.9% to 42.5%, with a mean of 18.8% ± 9.7%. The rate of minor AEs varied depending on how they were reported, with surgeon reporting associated with the lowest rates (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

The rate of major AEs after lumbar spine surgery is consistent among different sites but the rate of minor AEs appears to vary substantially. The method by which AEs are reported impacts the rate of minor AEs. These data have implications for the detection and reporting of AEs and the design of strategies aimed at mitigating complications.

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Clayton Inculet, Jennifer C. Urquhart, Parham Rasoulinejad, Hamilton Hall, Charles Fisher, Najmedden Attabib, Kenneth Thomas, Henry Ahn, Michael Johnson, Andrew Glennie, Andrew Nataraj, Sean D. Christie, Alexandra Stratton, Albert Yee, Neil Manson, Jérôme Paquet, Y. Raja Rampersaud, and Christopher S. Bailey

OBJECTIVE

Many studies have utilized a combined cohort of patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS) and isthmic spondylolisthesis (IS) to evaluate indications and outcomes. Intuitively, these are very different populations, and rates, indications, and outcomes may differ. The goal of this study was to compare specific patient characteristics associated with the utilization of a posterior lumbar interbody device between cohorts of patients with DS and IS, as well as to compare rates of interbody device use and patient-rated outcomes at 1 year after surgical treatment.

METHODS

The authors included patients who underwent posterior lumbar interbody fusion or instrumented posterolateral fusion for grade I or II DS or IS and had been enrolled in the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network registry from 2009 to 2016. The outcome measures were score on the Oswestry Disability Index, scores for back pain and leg pain on the numeric rating scale, and mental component summary (MCS) score and physical component summary score on the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Descriptive statistics were used to compare spondylolisthesis groups, logistic regression was used to compare interbody device use, and the chi-square test was used to compare the proportions of patients who achieved a minimal clinically important difference (MCID) at 1 year after surgery.

RESULTS

In total, 119 patients had IS and 339 had DS. Patients with DS were more commonly women, older, less likely to smoke, and more likely to have neurogenic claudication and comorbidities, whereas patients with IS more commonly had radicular pain, neurological deficits, and worse back pain. Spondylolisthesis was more common at the L4–5 level in patients with DS and at the L5–S1 level in patients with IS. Similar proportions of patients had an interbody device (78.6% of patients with DS vs 82.4% of patients with IS, p = 0.429). Among patients with IS, factors associated with interbody device utilization were BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 and increased baseline leg pain intensity. Factors associated with interbody device utilization in patients with DS were younger age, increased number of total comorbidities, and lower baseline MCS score. For each outcome measure, similar proportions of patients in the surgical treatment and spondylolisthesis groups achieved the MCID at 1 year after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

Although the demographic and patient characteristics associated with interbody device utilization differed between cohorts, similar proportions of patients attained clinically meaningful improvement at 1 year after surgery.

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Clinical outcomes research in spine surgery: what are appropriate follow-up times?

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Oliver G. S. Ayling, Tamir Ailon, Greg McIntosh, Alex Soroceanu, Hamilton Hall, Andrew Nataraj, Christopher S. Bailey, Sean Christie, Alexandra Stratton, Henry Ahn, Michael Johnson, Jerome Paquet, Kenneth Thomas, Neil Manson, Y. Raja Rampersaud, and Charles G. Fisher

OBJECTIVE

There has been a generic dictum in spine and musculoskeletal clinical research that a minimum 2-year follow-up is necessary for patient-reported outcomes (PROs) to adequately assess the therapeutic effect of surgery; however, the rationale for this duration is not evidence based. The purpose of this study was to determine the follow-up time necessary to ensure that the effectiveness of a lumbar surgical intervention is adequately captured for three lumbar pathologies and three common PROs.

METHODS

Using the different PROs of pain, physical function, and mental quality of life from the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN) prospective database, the authors assessed the time course to the recovery plateau following lumbar spine surgery for lumbar disc herniation, degenerative spondylolisthesis, and spinal stenosis. One-way ANOVA with post hoc testing was used to compare scores on the following standardized PRO measures at baseline and 3, 12, and 24 months postoperatively: Disability Scale (DS), visual analog scale (VAS) for leg and back pain, and SF-12 Mental Component Summary (MCS) and Physical Component Summary (PCS).

RESULTS

Significant differences for all spine pathologies and specific PROs were found with one-way ANOVA (p < 0.0001). The time to plateaued recovery after surgery for lumbar disc herniation (661 patients), lumbar stenosis (913 patients), and lumbar spondylolisthesis (563 patients) followed the same course for the following PRO measures: VAS for back and leg pain, 3 months; DS, 12 months; PCS, 12 months; and MCS, 3 months. Beyond these time points, no further significant improvements in PROs were seen. Patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis who had undergone fusion surgery plateaued at 12 months on the DS and PCS, compared to 3 months in those who had not undergone fusion.

CONCLUSIONS

Specific health dimensions follow distinctly different recovery plateaus, indicating that a 2-year postoperative follow-up is not required for all PROs to accurately assess the treatment effect of lumbar spinal surgery. Ultimately, the clinical research question should dictate the follow-up time and the outcome measure utilized; however, there is now evidence to guide the specific duration of follow-up for pain, physical function, and mental quality of life dimensions.