The number of spine surgeries performed in elderly patients is consistently increasing. However, to date the prevalence of and risk factors for perioperative complications remain unclear, especially in patients 80 years of age or older. This study had two goals: 1) determine the perioperative complications of spine surgery associated with patients 80 years of age or older; and 2) investigate the risk factors for perioperative systemic complications.
In this paper, the authors describe a multicenter prospective cohort study. Seven spine centers with board-certified spine surgeons participated in this all-case investigation. A total of 270 consecutively enrolled patients (109 males and 161 females), 80 years of age or older, underwent spine surgery between January and December 2017. Patients with trauma, infection, or tumor were excluded in this cohort. Perioperative complications were defined as adverse events that occurred intraoperatively or within 30 days postoperatively. The patients’ preoperative health status was determined using the following means of assessment: 1) the Charlson Comorbidity Index, 2) the American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status Classification System, 3) the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status (ECOG-PS), 4) the presence of sarcopenia, and 5) the Geriatric Nutritional Risk Index. Associations among patient age, preoperative health status, surgical factors (instrumentation surgery, operation time, number of spinal levels treated, and estimated blood loss), and perioperative systemic complications were analyzed.
Overall perioperative, surgical site, and minor systemic complications were observed in 20.0%, 8.1%, and 14.8% of patients, respectively. Major systemic complications, on the other hand, were not observed. The reoperation rate was low—only 4.1%. Multivariate analysis revealed that the ECOG-PS (p = 0.013), instrumentation surgery (p = 0.024), and an operation time longer than 180 minutes (p = 0.016) were associated with minor systemic complications.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first multicenter prospective all-case investigation of perioperative complications of spine surgery in elderly patients. Although decreased daily activity (ECOG-PS), instrumentation surgery, and longer operation time were associated with minor systemic complications, no major systemic complications were observed in these elderly patients. Thus, spine surgery can be safely performed in elderly patients 80 years of age or older.