The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between the mental health domain of the refined 22-item Scoliosis Research Society Outcome Questionnaire (SRS) and various postoperative outcome measures in the adult spinal deformity (ASD) population. Given the scale and involved nature of deformity surgery, some surgeons have proposed that preoperative mental health scores (MHSs) may assist in screening out poor surgical candidates. In this study, the authors aimed to further assess the SRS MHS as a preoperative metric and its association with postoperative outcomes and to comment on its potential use in patient selection and optimization for ASD surgery.
The authors conducted a retrospective study of 100 consecutive patients who had undergone primary or revision ASD surgery at a single academic institution between 2015 and 2019. Each patient had a minimum 2-year follow-up. Patients were categorized on the basis of their baseline mental health per the SRS mental health domain, with a score < 4 indicating low baseline mental health (LMH) and a score ≥ 4 indicating high baseline mental health (HMH). Baseline and follow-up SRS and Oswestry Disability Index scores, surgical procedures, lengths of stay, discharge locations, intraoperative or postoperative complications, and other outcome metrics were then compared between the HMH and LMH groups, as well as these groups stratified by an age ≤ 45 and > 45 years.
Among patients aged ≤ 45 and those aged > 45, the LMH group had significantly worse baseline health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) metrics in nearly all domains. The LMH group also had an increased median estimated blood loss (EBL; 1200 vs 800 ml, p = 0.0026) and longer average surgical duration (8.3 ± 2.8 vs 6.9 ± 2.6 hours, p = 0.014). Both LMH and HMH groups had significant improvements in nearly all HRQOL measures postoperatively. Despite their worse preoperative HRQOL baseline, patients in the LMH group actually improved the most and reached the same HRQOL endpoints as those in the HMH group.
While patients with lower baseline MHSs may require slightly longer hospital courses or more frequent discharges to rehabilitation facilities, these patients actually attain greater absolute improvements from their preoperative baseline and surprisingly have the same postoperative HRQOL metrics as the patients with high MHSs, despite their poorer starting point. This finding suggests that patients with LMH may be uniquely positioned to substantially benefit from surgical intervention and improve their HRQOL scores and thus should be considered for ASD surgery to an extent similar to patients with HMH.