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Zhuo Xi, Shane Burch, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Rory Richard Mayer, Charles Eichler and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

Obese patients have been shown to have longer operative times and more complications from surgery. However, for obese patients undergoing minimally invasive surgery, these differences may not be as significant. In the lateral position, it is thought that obesity is less of an issue because gravity pulls the visceral fat away from the spine; however, this observation is primarily anecdotal and based on expert opinion. The authors performed oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF) and they report on the perioperative morbidity in obese and nonobese patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of patients who underwent OLIF performed by 3 spine surgeons and 1 vascular surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, from 2013 to 2018. Data collected included demographic variables; approach-related factors such as operative time, blood loss, and expected temporary approach-related sequelae; and overall complications. Patients were categorized according to their body mass index (BMI). Obesity was defined as a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2, and severe obesity was defined as a BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2.

RESULTS

There were 238 patients (95 males and 143 females). There were no significant differences between the obese and nonobese groups in terms of sex, levels fused, or smoking status. For the entire cohort, there was no difference in operative time, blood loss, or complications when comparing obese and nonobese patients. However, a subset analysis of the 77 multilevel OLIFs that included L5–S1 demonstrated that the operative times for the nonobese group was 223.55 ± 57.93 minutes, whereas it was 273.75 ± 90.07 minutes for the obese group (p = 0.004). In this subset, the expected approach-related sequela rate was 13.2% for the nonobese group, whereas it was 33.3% for the obese group (p = 0.039). However, the two groups had similar blood loss (p = 0.476) and complication rates (p = 0.876).

CONCLUSIONS

Obesity and morbid obesity generally do not increase the operative time, blood loss, approach-related sequelae, or complications following OLIF. However, obese patients who undergo multilevel OLIF that includes the L5–S1 level do have longer operative times or a higher rate of expected approach-related sequelae. Obesity should not be considered a contraindication to multilevel OLIF, but patients should be informed of potentially increased morbidity if the L5–S1 level is to be included.

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Michael M. Safaee, Alexander Tenorio, Joseph A. Osorio, Winward Choy, Dominic Amara, Lillian Lai, Annette M. Molinaro, Yalan Zhang, Serena S. Hu, Bobby Tay, Shane Burch, Sigurd H. Berven, Vedat Deviren, Sanjay S. Dhall, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Charles M. Eichler, Christopher P. Ames and Aaron J. Clark

OBJECTIVE

Anterior approaches to the lumbar spine provide wide exposure that facilitates placement of large grafts with high fusion rates. There are limited data on the effects of obesity on perioperative complications.

METHODS

Data from consecutive patients undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) from 2007 to 2016 at a single academic center were analyzed. The primary outcome was any perioperative complication. Complications were divided into those occurring intraoperatively and those occurring postoperatively. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the association of obesity and other variables with these complications. An estimation table was used to identify a body mass index (BMI) threshold associated with increased risk of postoperative complication.

RESULTS

A total of 938 patients were identified, and the mean age was 57 years; 511 were females (54.5%). The mean BMI was 28.7 kg/m2, with 354 (37.7%) patients classified as obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). Forty patients (4.3%) underwent a lateral transthoracic approach, while the remaining 898 (95.7%) underwent a transabdominal retroperitoneal approach. Among patients undergoing transabdominal retroperitoneal ALIF, complication rates were higher for obese patients than for nonobese patients (37.0% vs 28.7%, p = 0.010), a difference that was driven primarily by postoperative complications (36.1% vs 26.0%, p = 0.001) rather than intraoperative complications (3.2% vs 4.3%, p = 0.416). Obese patients had higher rates of ileus (11.7% vs 7.2%, p = 0.020), wound complications (11.4% vs 3.4%, p < 0.001), and urinary tract infections (UTI) (5.0% vs 2.5%, p = 0.049). In a multivariate model, age, obesity, and number of ALIF levels fused were associated with an increased risk of postoperative complication. An estimation table including 19 candidate cut-points, odds ratios, and adjusted p values found a BMI ≥ 31 kg/m2 to have the highest association with postoperative complication (p = 0.012).

CONCLUSIONS

Obesity is associated with increased postoperative complications in ALIF, including ileus, wound complications, and UTI. ALIF is a safe and effective procedure. However, patients with a BMI ≥ 31 kg/m2 should be counseled on their increased risks and warrant careful preoperative medical optimization and close monitoring in the postoperative setting.