Previous investigations of health outcome after spinal surgery for tethered cord syndrome (TCS) have been single-institution studies. The aim of this study was to report inpatient complications and outcomes on a nationwide level.
The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) was used to identify patients who underwent spinal surgery for TCS in the US between 1993 and 2002. Patients who had a primary diagnosis of TCS (ICD-9 742.59) and also underwent spinal laminectomies were included in this study. Multivariate analysis was performed to analyze the effects of patient and hospital characteristics on variables such as mortality rate, nonfatal complications, LOS, and adverse outcomes in general (defined as death or discharge to an institution rather than home).
The NIS sample included data on 9733 patients with TCS who underwent surgery. The means for mortality rate, complication rate, and LOS, respectively, were 0.0005%, 9.48%, and 5.6 days. Postoperative hemorrhages or hematomas (mean rate 2.3%) were the most common complications reported. Age and complications were the only significant predictors of adverse outcome on multivariate analysis. Patients older than 65 years had a threefold increase in risk of adverse outcome compared with patients 18 to 44 years of age. On average, one postoperative complication led to a 3-day increase in mean LOS and added more than $9000 to hospital charges.
This study provides a national perspective on inpatient complications and outcomes after spinal surgery for TCS in the United States. The authors have demonstrated the impact of age, complications, and medical comorbidities on the outcome of surgery for patients with this common disorder.