Patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) experience significant quality of life improvements after surgery. Treatment, however, is expensive and complication rates are high. Predictive analytics has the potential to use many variables to make accurate predictions in large data sets. A validated minimum clinically important difference (MCID) model has the potential to assist in patient selection, thereby improving outcomes and, potentially, cost-effectiveness.
The present study was a retrospective analysis of a multiinstitutional database of patients with ASD. Inclusion criteria were as follows: age ≥ 18 years, radiographic evidence of ASD, 2-year follow-up, and preoperative Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) > 15. Forty-six variables were used for model training: demographic data, radiographic parameters, surgical variables, and results on the health-related quality of life questionnaire. Patients were grouped as reaching a 2-year ODI MCID (+MCID) or not (−MCID). An ensemble of 5 different bootstrapped decision trees was constructed using the C5.0 algorithm. Internal validation was performed via 70:30 data split for training/testing. Model accuracy and area under the curve (AUC) were calculated. The mean quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and QALYs gained at 2 years were calculated and discounted at 3.5% per year. The QALYs were compared between patients in the +MCID and –MCID groups.
A total of 234 patients met inclusion criteria (+MCID 129, −MCID 105). Sixty-nine patients (29.5%) were included for model testing. Predicted versus actual results were 50 versus 40 for +MCID and 19 versus 29 for −MCID (i.e., 10 patients were misclassified). Model accuracy was 85.5%, with 0.96 AUC. Predicted results showed that patients in the +MCID group had significantly greater 2-year mean QALYs (p = 0.0057) and QALYs gained (p = 0.0002).
A successful model with 85.5% accuracy and 0.96 AUC was constructed to predict which patients would reach ODI MCID. The patients in the +MCID group had significantly higher mean 2-year QALYs and QALYs gained. This study provides proof of concept for using predictive modeling techniques to optimize patient selection in complex spine surgery.