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R. Andrew Glennie, Mayilee Canizares, Anthony V. Perruccio, Edward Abraham, Fred Nicholls, Andrew Nataraj, Philippe Phan, Najmedden Attabib, Michael G. Johnson, Eden Richardson, Greg McIntosh, Henry Ahn, Charles G. Fisher, Neil Manson, Kenneth Thomas, and Y. Raja Rampersaud

OBJECTIVE

Patients undergoing spine surgery generally have high expectations for improvement postoperatively. Little is known about how these expectations are affected by the diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to examine whether preoperative expectations differ based on diagnostic pathoanatomical patterns in elective spine surgery patients.

METHODS

Patients with common degenerative cervical/lumbar pathology (lumbar/cervical stenosis, lumbar spondylolisthesis, and cervical/lumbar disc herniation) who had given their consent for surgery were analyzed using the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN). Patients reported the changes they expected to experience postoperatively in relation to 7 separate items using a modified version of the North American Spine Society spine questionnaire. Patients were also asked about the most important item that would make them consider the surgery a success. Sociodemographic, lifestyle, and clinical variables were also collected.

RESULTS

There were 3868 eligible patients identified within the network for analysis. Patients with lumbar disc herniation had higher expectations for relief of leg pain compared with stenosis and lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis cohorts within the univariate analysis. Cervical stenosis (myelopathy) patients were more likely to rank general physical capacity as their most important expectation from spine surgery. The multinomial regression analysis showed that cervical myelopathy patients have lower expectations for relief of arm or neck pain from surgery (OR 0.54, 0.34–0.88; p < 0.05). Patient factors, including age, symptoms (pain, disability, depression), work status, and lifestyle factors, were significantly associated with expectation, whereas the diagnoses were not.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with degenerative spinal conditions consenting for spine surgery have high expectations for improvement in all realms of their daily lives. With the exception of patients with cervical myelopathy, patient symptoms rather than diagnoses had a more substantial impact on the dimensions in which patients expected to improve or their most important expected change. Determination of patient expectation should be individualized and not biased by pathoanatomical diagnosis.

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Nathan Evaniew, David W. Cadotte, Nicolas Dea, Christopher S. Bailey, Sean D. Christie, Charles G. Fisher, Jerome Paquet, Alex Soroceanu, Kenneth C. Thomas, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Neil A. Manson, Michael Johnson, Andrew Nataraj, Hamilton Hall, Greg McIntosh, and W. Bradley Jacobs

OBJECTIVE

Recently identified prognostic variables among patients undergoing surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) are limited to two large international data sets. To optimally inform shared clinical decision-making, the authors evaluated which preoperative clinical factors are significantly associated with improvement on the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scale by at least the minimum clinically important difference (MCID) 12 months after surgery, among patients from the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN).

METHODS

The authors performed an observational cohort study with data that were prospectively collected from CSM patients at 7 centers between 2015 and 2017. Candidate variables were tested using univariable and multiple binomial logistic regression, and multiple sensitivity analyses were performed to test assumptions about the nature of the statistical models. Validated mJOA MCIDs were implemented that varied according to baseline CSM severity.

RESULTS

Among 205 patients with CSM, there were 64 (31%) classified as mild, 86 (42%) as moderate, and 55 (27%) as severe. Overall, 52% of patients achieved MCID and the mean change in mJOA score at 12 months after surgery was 1.7 ± 2.6 points (p < 0.01), but the subgroup of patients with mild CSM did not significantly improve (mean change 0.1 ± 1.9 points, p = 0.8). Univariate analyses failed to identify significant associations between achieving MCID and sex, BMI, living status, education, smoking, disability claims, or number of comorbidities. After adjustment for potential confounders, the odds of achieving MCID were significantly reduced with older age (OR 0.7 per decade, 95% CI 0.5–0.9, p < 0.01) and higher baseline mJOA score (OR 0.8 per point, 95% CI 0.7–0.9, p < 0.01). The effects of symptom duration (OR 1.0 per additional month, 95% CI 0.9–1.0, p = 0.2) and smoking (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2–1.0, p = 0.06) were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery is effective at halting the progression of functional decline with CSM, and approximately half of all patients achieve the MCID. Data from the CSORN confirmed that older age is independently associated with poorer outcomes, but novel findings include that patients with milder CSM did not experience meaningful improvement, and that symptom duration and smoking were not important. These findings support a nuanced approach to shared decision-making that acknowledges some prognostic uncertainty when weighing the various risks, benefits, and alternatives to surgical treatment.

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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.

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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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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.