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Saniya S. Godil, Scott L. Parker, Kevin R. O'Neill, Clinton J. Devin and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Surgical site infection (SSI) is a morbid complication with high cost in spine surgery. In this era of health care reforms, adjuvant therapies that not only improve quality but also decrease cost are considered of highest value. The authors introduced local application of vancomycin powder into their practice of posterior spinal fusion for spine trauma and undertook this study to determine the value and cost benefit of using vancomycin powder in surgical sites to prevent postoperative infections.

Methods

A retrospective review of 110 patients with traumatic spine injuries treated with instrumented posterior spine fusions over a 2-year period at a single institution was performed. One group (control group) received standard systemic prophylaxis only, whereas another (treatment group) received 1 g of locally applied vancomycin powder (spread over the surgical wound) in addition to systemic prophylaxis. Data were collected on patient demographic characteristics, clinical variables, surgical variables, and 90-day morbidity. Incidence of infection was the primary outcome evaluated, and billing records were reviewed to determine total infection-related medical cost (cost of reoperation/wound debridement, medications, and diagnostic tests). The payer's cost was estimated to be 70% of the total billing cost.

Results

A total of 110 patients were included in the study. The control (n = 54) and treatment groups (n = 56) were similar at baseline. Use of vancomycin powder led to significant reduction in infection rate (13% infection rate in the control group vs 0% in the treatment group, p = 0.02). There were no adverse effects noted from the use of vancomycin powder. The total mean cost of treating postoperative infection per patient was $33,705. Use of vancomycin powder led to a cost savings of $438,165 per 100 posterior spinal fusions performed for traumatic injuries.

Conclusions

The use of adjuvant vancomycin powder was associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of postoperative infection as well as infection-related medical cost. These findings suggest that use of adjuvant vancomycin powder in high-risk patients undergoing spinal fusion is a cost-saving option for preventing postoperative infections, as it can lead to cost-savings of $438,165 per 100 spinal fusions performed.

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Scott L. Parker, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Silky Chotai, Matthew J. McGirt, Anthony L. Asher and Clinton J. Devin

OBJECTIVE

Hospital readmissions lead to a significant increase in the total cost of care in patients undergoing elective spine surgery. Understanding factors associated with an increased risk of postoperative readmission could facilitate a reduction in such occurrences. The aims of this study were to develop and validate a predictive model for 90-day hospital readmission following elective spine surgery.

METHODS

All patients undergoing elective spine surgery for degenerative disease were enrolled in a prospective longitudinal registry. All 90-day readmissions were prospectively recorded. For predictive modeling, all covariates were selected by choosing those variables that were significantly associated with readmission and by incorporating other relevant variables based on clinical intuition and the Akaike information criterion. Eighty percent of the sample was randomly selected for model development and 20% for model validation. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed with Bayesian model averaging (BMA) to model the odds of 90-day readmission. Goodness of fit was assessed via the C-statistic, that is, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), using the training data set. Discrimination (predictive performance) was assessed using the C-statistic, as applied to the 20% validation data set.

RESULTS

A total of 2803 consecutive patients were enrolled in the registry, and their data were analyzed for this study. Of this cohort, 227 (8.1%) patients were readmitted to the hospital (for any cause) within 90 days postoperatively. Variables significantly associated with an increased risk of readmission were as follows (OR [95% CI]): lumbar surgery 1.8 [1.1–2.8], government-issued insurance 2.0 [1.4–3.0], hypertension 2.1 [1.4–3.3], prior myocardial infarction 2.2 [1.2–3.8], diabetes 2.5 [1.7–3.7], and coagulation disorder 3.1 [1.6–5.8]. These variables, in addition to others determined a priori to be clinically relevant, comprised 32 inputs in the predictive model constructed using BMA. The AUC value for the training data set was 0.77 for model development and 0.76 for model validation.

CONCLUSIONS

Identification of high-risk patients is feasible with the novel predictive model presented herein. Appropriate allocation of resources to reduce the postoperative incidence of readmission may reduce the readmission rate and the associated health care costs.

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Owoicho Adogwa, Scott L. Parker, David N. Shau, Stephen K. Mendenhall, Clinton J. Devin, Joseph S. Cheng and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of spinal fusions performed in the US and a corresponding increase in the incidence of adjacent-segment disease (ASD). Surgical management of symptomatic ASD consists of decompression of neural elements and extension of fusion. It has been shown to have favorable long-term outcomes, but the cost-effectiveness remains unclear. In this study, the authors set out to assess the cost-effectiveness of revision surgery in the treatment of ASD over a 2-year period.

Methods

Fifty patients undergoing neural decompression and extension of fusion construct for ASD-associated back and leg pain were included in the study. Two-year total back-related medical resource utilization, missed work, and health state values (quality-adjusted life years [QALYs], calculated from the EQ-5D with US valuation) were assessed. Two-year resource use was multiplied by unit costs based on Medicare national allowable payment amounts (direct cost), and patient and caregiver workday losses were multiplied by the self-reported gross-of-tax wage rate (indirect cost). Mean total 2-year cost per QALY gained after revision surgery was assessed.

Results

The mean (± SD) interval between prior fusion and revision surgery for ASD was 3.07 ± 2.02 years. A mean cumulative 2-year gain of 0.76 QALYs was observed after revision surgery. The mean total 2-year cost of extension of fusion constructs was $47,846 ± $32,712 (surgery cost: $24,063 ± $300; outpatient resource utilization cost: $4175 ± $3368; indirect cost: $19,607 ± $32,187). Revision decompression and extension of fusion was associated with a mean 2-year cost per QALY gained of $62,955.

Conclusions

In the authors' practice, revision decompression and extension of fusion provided a significant gain in health state utility for patients with symptomatic ASD, with a 2-year cost per QALY gained of $62,995. When indicated, revision surgery for ASD is a valuable treatment option for patients experiencing back and leg pain secondary to ASD. The findings provide a value measure of surgery that can be compared with future cost-per-QALY-gained studies of medical management or alternative surgical approaches.

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Scott L. Parker, Stephen K. Mendenhall, David N. Shau, Owoicho Adogwa, William N. Anderson, Clinton J. Devin and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Spine surgery outcome studies rely on patient-reported outcome (PRO) measurements to assess treatment effect, but the extent of improvement in the numerical scores of these questionnaires lacks a direct clinical meaning. Because of this, the concept of a minimum clinically important difference (MCID) has been used to measure the critical threshold needed to achieve clinically relevant treatment effectiveness. As utilization of spinal fusion has increased over the past decade, so has the incidence of same-level recurrent stenosis following index lumbar fusion, which commonly requires revision decompression and fusion. The MCID remains uninvestigated for any PROs in the setting of revision lumbar surgery for this pathology.

Methods

In 53 consecutive patients undergoing revision surgery for same-level recurrent lumbar stenosis–associated back and leg pain, PRO measures of back and leg pain were assessed preoperatively and 2 years postoperatively, using the visual analog scale for back pain (VAS-BP) and leg pain (VAS-LP), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Physical and Mental Component Summary categories of the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12 PCS and MCS) for quality of life, Zung Depression Scale (ZDS), and EuroQol-5D health survey (EQ-5D). Four established anchor-based MCID calculation methods were used to calculate MCID (average change; minimum detectable change; change difference; and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis) for 2 separate anchors (health transition index of the SF-36 and the satisfaction index).

Results

All patients were available for 2-year PRO assessment. Two years after surgery, a significant improvement was observed for all PROs assessed. The 4 MCID calculation methods generated a range of MCID values for each of the PROs (VAS-BP 2.2–6.0, VAS-LP 3.9–7.5, ODI 8.2–19.9, SF-12 PCS 2.5–12.1, SF-12 MCS 7.0–15.9, ZDS 3.0–18.6, and EQ-5D 0.29–0.52). Each patient answered synchronously for the 2 anchors, suggesting both of these anchors are equally appropriate and valid for this patient population.

Conclusions

The same-level recurrent stenosis surgery-specific MCID is highly variable based on calculation technique. The “minimum detectable change” approach is the most appropriate method for calculation of MCIDs in this population because it was the only method to reliably provide a threshold above the 95% confidence interval of the unimproved cohort (greater than the measurement error). Based on this method, the MCID thresholds following neural decompression and fusion for symptomatic same-level recurrent stenosis are 2.2 points for VAS-BP, 5.0 points for VAS-LP, 8.2 points for ODI, 2.5 points for SF-12 PCS, 10.1 points for SF-12 MCS, 4.9 points for ZDS, and 0.39 QALYs for EQ-5D.

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Owoicho Adogwa, Scott L. Parker, David Shau, Stephen K. Mendelhall, Joseph Cheng, Oran Aaronson, Clinton J. Devin and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

The number of low-back fusion procedures for the treatment of spine disorders has increased steadily over the past 10 years. Lumbar pseudarthrosis is a potential complication of lumbar arthrodesis and can be associated with significant pain and disability. The aim of this study was to assess, using validated patient-reported outcomes measures, the long-term effectiveness of revision arthrodesis in the treatment of symptomatic pseudarthrosis.

Methods

This is a retrospective study of 47 patients who underwent revision lumbar arthrodesis for pseudarthrosis-associated back pain. Baseline 2-year outcomes were assessed using the following: visual analog scale (VAS) for back pain, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale, time to narcotic independence, time to return to work, EuroQol health-state utility, and physical and mental quality of life (Short Form [SF]–12 Physical and Mental Component Summary scores).

Results

The mean duration of time between prior fusion and development of symptomatic pseudarthrosis was 2.69 years. Bone morphogenetic protein was used in 4 cases (8.5%) of revision arthrodesis. A significant improvement in VAS back pain (7.31 ± 0.81 vs 5.06 ± 2.64, p = 0.001), ODI (29.74 ± 5.35 vs 25.42 ± 6.0, p = 0.001), and physical health SF-12 (23.83 ± 6.89 vs 27.85 ± 8.90, p = 0.001) scores was observed when comparing baseline and 2-year post–revision arthrodesis scores, respectively, with a mean cumulative 2-year gain of 0.35 quality-adjusted life years. The median time to narcotics independence was 12.16 (interquartile range 1.5–24.0) months and the median time to return to work was 4 months (interquartile range 3–5 months). By 2 years after revision surgery, no patients had experienced pseudarthrosis. The SF-12 Mental Component Summary (44.72 ± 7.90 vs 43.46 ± 7.51, p = 0.43) and Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale scores (39.36 ± 7.48 vs 41.39 ± 10.72, p = 0.37) were not significantly improved by 2 years.

Conclusions

The authors' study suggests that revision lumbar arthrodesis for symptomatic pseudarthrosis provides improvement in low-back pain, disability, and quality of life. Revision lumbar arthrodesis should be considered a viable treatment option for patients with pseudarthrosis-related back pain. Mental health symptoms from pseudarthrosis-associated back pain may be more refractory to revision surgery.

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Scott L. Parker, Stephen K. Mendenhall, David Shau, Owoicho Adogwa, Joseph S. Cheng, William N. Anderson, Clinton J. Devin and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Spinal surgical outcome studies rely on patient-reported outcome (PRO) measurements to assess treatment effect. A shortcoming of these questionnaires is that the extent of improvement in their numerical scores lack a direct clinical meaning. As a result, the concept of minimum clinical important difference (MCID) has been used to measure the critical threshold needed to achieve clinically relevant treatment effectiveness. As utilization of spinal fusion has increased over the past decade, so has the incidence of adjacent-segment degeneration following index lumbar fusion, which commonly requires revision laminectomy and extension of fusion. The MCID remains uninvestigated for any PROs in the setting of revision lumbar surgery for adjacent-segment disease (ASD).

Methods

In 50 consecutive patients undergoing revision surgery for ASD-associated back and leg pain, PRO measures of back and leg pain on a visual analog scale (BP-VAS and LP-VAS, respectively), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), 12-Item Short Form Health Survey Physical and Mental Component Summaries (SF-12 PCS and MCS, respectively), and EuroQol-5D health survey (EQ-5D) were assessed preoperatively and 2 years postoperatively. The following 4 well-established anchor-based MCID calculation methods were used to calculate MCID: average change; minimum detectable change (MDC); change difference; and receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analysis for the following 2 separate anchors: health transition item (HTI) of the SF-36 and satisfaction index.

Results

All patients were available for 2-year PRO assessment. Two years after surgery, a statistically significant improvement was observed for all PROs (mean changes: BP-VAS score [4.80 ± 3.25], LP-VAS score [3.28 ± 3.25], ODI [10.24 ± 13.49], SF-12 PCS [8.69 ± 12.55] and MCS [8.49 ± 11.45] scores, and EQ-5D [0.38 ± 0.45]; all p < 0.001). The 4 MCID calculation methods generated a range of MCID values for each of the PROs (BP-VAS score, 2.3–6.5; LP-VAS score, 1.7–4.3; ODI, 6.8–16.9; SF-12 PCS, 6.1–12.6; SF-12 MCS, 2.4–10.8; and EQ-5D, 0.27–0.54). The area under the ROC curve was consistently greater for the HTI anchor than the satisfaction anchor, suggesting this as a more accurate anchor for MCID.

Conclusions

Adjacent-segment disease revision surgery–specific MCID is highly variable based on calculation technique. The MDC approach with HTI anchor appears to be most appropriate for calculation of MCID after revision lumbar fusion for ASD because it provided a threshold above the 95% CI of the unimproved cohort (greater than the measurement error), was closest to the mean change score reported by improved and satisfied patients, and was not significantly affected by choice of anchor. Based on this method, MCID following ASD revision lumbar surgery is 3.8 points for BP-VAS score, 2.4 points for LP-VAS score, 6.8 points for ODI, 8.8 points for SF-12 PCS, 9.3 points for SF-12 MCS, and 0.35 quality-adjusted life-years for EQ-5D.

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Owoicho Adogwa, Scott L. Parker, David N. Shau, Stephen K. Mendenhall, Oran Aaronson, Joseph S. Cheng, Clinton J. Devin and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Despite advances in technology and understanding in spinal physiology, reoperation for symptomatic same-level recurrent stenosis continues to occur. Although revision lumbar surgery is effective, attention has turned to the question of the utility and value of revision decompression and fusion procedures. To date, an analysis of cost and heath state gain associated with revision lumbar surgery for recurrent same-level lumbar stenosis has yet to be described. The authors set out to assess the 2-year comprehensive cost of revision surgery and determine its value in the treatment of same-level recurrent stenosis.

Methods

Forty-two patients undergoing revision decompression and instrumented fusion for same-level recurrent stenosis–associated leg and back pain were included in this study. Two-year total back-related medical resource utilization, missed work, and health state values (quality-adjusted life years [QALYs], calculated from the EQ-5D with US valuation) were assessed. Two-year resource use was multiplied by unit costs based on Medicare national allowable payment amounts (direct cost), and patient and caregiver workday losses were multiplied by the self-reported gross-of-tax wage rate (indirect cost). Mean total 2-year cost per QALY gained after revision surgery was assessed.

Results

The mean (± SD) interval between prior and revision surgery was 4.16 ± 4.64 years. Bone morphogenetic protein was used in 7 cases of revision arthrodesis (16.7%). A mean cumulative 2-year gain of 0.84 QALY was observed after revision surgery. The mean total 2-year cost of revision fusion was $49,431 ± $7583 (surgery cost $21,060 ± $4459; outpatient resource utilization cost $9748 ± $5292; indirect cost $18,623 ± $9098). Revision decompression and extension of fusion was associated with a mean 2-year cost per QALY gained of $58,846.

Conclusions

In the authors' practice, revision decompression and fusion provided a significant gain in health state utility for patients with symptomatic same-level recurrent stenosis, with a 2-year cost per QALY gained of $58,846. When indicated, revision surgery for same-level recurrent stenosis is a valuable treatment option for patients experiencing back and leg pain secondary to this disease. The authors' findings provide a value measure of surgery that can be compared with the results of future cost-per-QALY-gained studies of medical management or alternative surgical approaches.

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Anthony L. Asher, Clinton J. Devin, Brandon McCutcheon, Silky Chotai, Kristin R. Archer, Hui Nian, Frank E. Harrell Jr., Matthew McGirt, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Kevin Foley, Steven D. Glassman and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

In this analysis the authors compare the characteristics of smokers to nonsmokers using demographic, socioeconomic, and comorbidity variables. They also investigate which of these characteristics are most strongly associated with smoking status. Finally, the authors investigate whether the association between known patient risk factors and disability outcome is differentially modified by patient smoking status for those who have undergone surgery for lumbar degeneration.

METHODS

A total of 7547 patients undergoing degenerative lumbar surgery were entered into a prospective multicenter registry (Quality Outcomes Database [QOD]). A retrospective analysis of the prospectively collected data was conducted. Patients were dichotomized as smokers (current smokers) and nonsmokers. Multivariable logistic regression analysis fitted for patient smoking status and subsequent measurement of variable importance was performed to identify the strongest patient characteristics associated with smoking status. Multivariable linear regression models fitted for 12-month Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores in subsets of smokers and nonsmokers was performed to investigate whether differential effects of risk factors by smoking status might be present.

RESULTS

In total, 18% (n = 1365) of patients were smokers and 82% (n = 6182) were nonsmokers. In a multivariable logistic regression analysis, the factors significantly associated with patients’ smoking status were sex (p < 0.0001), age (p < 0.0001), body mass index (p < 0.0001), educational status (p < 0.0001), insurance status (p < 0.001), and employment/occupation (p = 0.0024). Patients with diabetes had lowers odds of being a smoker (p = 0.0008), while patients with coronary artery disease had greater odds of being a smoker (p = 0.044). Patients’ propensity for smoking was also significantly associated with higher American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class (p < 0.0001), anterior-alone surgical approach (p = 0.018), greater number of levels (p = 0.0246), decompression only (p = 0.0001), and higher baseline ODI score (p < 0.0001). In a multivariable proportional odds logistic regression model, the adjusted odds ratio of risk factors and direction of improvement in 12-month ODI scores remained similar between the subsets of smokers and nonsmokers.

CONCLUSIONS

Using a large, national, multiinstitutional registry, the authors described the profile of patients who undergo lumbar spine surgery and its association with their smoking status. Compared with nonsmokers, smokers were younger, male, nondiabetic, nonobese patients presenting with leg pain more so than back pain, with higher ASA classes, higher disability, less education, more likely to be unemployed, and with Medicaid/uninsured insurance status. Smoking status did not affect the association between these risk factors and 12-month ODI outcome, suggesting that interventions for modifiable risk factors are equally efficacious between smokers and nonsmokers.

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Matthew J. McGirt, Mohamad Bydon, Kristin R. Archer, Clinton J. Devin, Silky Chotai, Scott L. Parker, Hui Nian, Frank E. Harrell Jr., Theodore Speroff, Robert S. Dittus, Sharon E. Philips, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Kevin T. Foley and Anthony L. Asher

OBJECTIVE

Quality and outcomes registry platforms lie at the center of many emerging evidence-driven reform models. Specifically, clinical registry data are progressively informing health care decision-making. In this analysis, the authors used data from a national prospective outcomes registry (the Quality Outcomes Database) to develop a predictive model for 12-month postoperative pain, disability, and quality of life (QOL) in patients undergoing elective lumbar spine surgery.

METHODS

Included in this analysis were 7618 patients who had completed 12 months of follow-up. The authors prospectively assessed baseline and 12-month patient-reported outcomes (PROs) via telephone interviews. The PROs assessed were those ascertained using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, and numeric rating scale (NRS) for back pain (BP) and leg pain (LP). Variables analyzed for the predictive model included age, gender, body mass index, race, education level, history of prior surgery, smoking status, comorbid conditions, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score, symptom duration, indication for surgery, number of levels surgically treated, history of fusion surgery, surgical approach, receipt of workers’ compensation, liability insurance, insurance status, and ambulatory ability. To create a predictive model, each 12-month PRO was treated as an ordinal dependent variable and a separate proportional-odds ordinal logistic regression model was fitted for each PRO.

RESULTS

There was a significant improvement in all PROs (p < 0.0001) at 12 months following lumbar spine surgery. The most important predictors of overall disability, QOL, and pain outcomes following lumbar spine surgery were employment status, baseline NRS-BP scores, psychological distress, baseline ODI scores, level of education, workers’ compensation status, symptom duration, race, baseline NRS-LP scores, ASA score, age, predominant symptom, smoking status, and insurance status. The prediction discrimination of the 4 separate novel predictive models was good, with a c-index of 0.69 for ODI, 0.69 for EQ-5D, 0.67 for NRS-BP, and 0.64 for NRS-LP (i.e., good concordance between predicted outcomes and observed outcomes).

CONCLUSIONS

This study found that preoperative patient-specific factors derived from a prospective national outcomes registry significantly influence PRO measures of treatment effectiveness at 12 months after lumbar surgery. Novel predictive models constructed with these data hold the potential to improve surgical effectiveness and the overall value of spine surgery by optimizing patient selection and identifying important modifiable factors before a surgery even takes place. Furthermore, these models can advance patient-focused care when used as shared decision-making tools during preoperative patient counseling.

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Anthony L. Asher, Clinton J. Devin, Kristin R. Archer, Silky Chotai, Scott L. Parker, Mohamad Bydon, Hui Nian, Frank E. Harrell Jr., Theodore Speroff, Robert S. Dittus, Sharon E. Philips, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Kevin T. Foley and Matthew J. McGirt

OBJECTIVE

Current costs associated with spine care are unsustainable. Productivity loss and time away from work for patients who were once gainfully employed contributes greatly to the financial burden experienced by individuals and, more broadly, society. Therefore, it is vital to identify the factors associated with return to work (RTW) after lumbar spine surgery. In this analysis, the authors used data from a national prospective outcomes registry to create a predictive model of patients’ ability to RTW after undergoing lumbar spine surgery for degenerative spine disease.

METHODS

Data from 4694 patients who underwent elective spine surgery for degenerative lumbar disease, who had been employed preoperatively, and who had completed a 3-month follow-up evaluation, were entered into a prospective, multicenter registry. Patient-reported outcomes—Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), numeric rating scale (NRS) for back pain (BP) and leg pain (LP), and EQ-5D scores—were recorded at baseline and at 3 months postoperatively. The time to RTW was defined as the period between operation and date of returning to work. A multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model, including an array of preoperative factors, was fitted for RTW. The model performance was measured using the concordance index (c-index).

RESULTS

Eighty-two percent of patients (n = 3855) returned to work within 3 months postoperatively. The risk-adjusted predictors of a lower likelihood of RTW were being preoperatively employed but not working at the time of presentation, manual labor as an occupation, worker’s compensation, liability insurance for disability, higher preoperative ODI score, higher preoperative NRS-BP score, and demographic factors such as female sex, African American race, history of diabetes, and higher American Society of Anesthesiologists score. The likelihood of a RTW within 3 months was higher in patients with higher education level than in those with less than high school–level education. The c-index of the model’s performance was 0.71.

CONCLUSIONS

This study presents a novel predictive model for the probability of returning to work after lumbar spine surgery. Spine care providers can use this model to educate patients and encourage them in shared decision-making regarding the RTW outcome. This evidence-based decision support will result in better communication between patients and clinicians and improve postoperative recovery expectations, which will ultimately increase the likelihood of a positive RTW trajectory.