Adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is known for its high complication rate. This study examined the impact of obesity on complication rates, infection, and patient-reported outcomes in patients undergoing surgery for ASD.
This study was a retrospective review of a multicenter prospective database of patients with ASD who were treated surgically. Patients with available 2-year follow-up data were included. Obesity was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2. Data collected included complications (total, minor, major, implant-related, radiographic, infection, revision surgery, and neurological injury), estimated blood loss (EBL), operating room (OR) time, length of stay (LOS), and patient-reported questionnaires (Oswestry Disability Index [ODI], Short Form-36 [SF-36], and Scoliosis Research Society [SRS]) at baseline and at 6 weeks, 1 year, and 2 years postoperatively. The impact of obesity was studied using multivariate modeling, accounting for confounders.
Of 241 patients who satisfied inclusion criteria, 175 patients were nonobese and 66 were obese. Regression models showed that obese patients had a higher overall incidence of major complications (IRR 1.54, p = 0.02) and wound infections (odds ratio 4.88, p = 0.02). Obesity did not increase the number of minor complications (p = 0.62), radiographic complications (p = 0.62), neurological complications (p = 0.861), or need for revision surgery (p = 0.846). Obesity was not significantly correlated with OR time (p = 0.23), LOS (p = 0.9), or EBL (p = 0.98). Both groups experienced significant improvement overtime, as measured on the ODI (p = 0.0001), SF-36 (p = 0.0001), and SRS (p = 0.0001) questionnaires. However, the overall magnitude of improvement was less for obese patients (ODI, p = 0.0035; SF-36, p = 0.0012; SRS, p = 0.022). Obese patients also had a lower rate of improvement over time (SRS, p = 0.0085; ODI, p = 0.0001; SF-36, p = 0.0001).
This study revealed that obese patients have an increased risk of complications following ASD correction. Despite these increased complications, obese patients do benefit from surgical intervention; however, their improvement in health-related quality of life (HRQL) is less than that of nonobese patients.