The purpose of this study is to determine if the preoperative Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) score is predictive of short- and intermediate-term PedsQL outcomes following Chiari decompression surgery. The utility of preoperative patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in predicting pain, opioid consumption, and long-term PROs has been demonstrated in adult spine surgery. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, however, there is currently no widely accepted tool to predict short-, intermediate-, or long-term outcomes after pediatric Chiari decompression surgery.
A prospectively maintained database was retrospectively reviewed. Patients who had undergone first-time decompression for symptomatic Chiari malformation were identified and grouped according to their preoperative PedsQL scores: mild disability (score 80–100), moderate disability (score 60–79), and severe disability (score < 60). PedsQL scores at the 6-week, 3-month, and/or 6-month follow-ups were collected. Preoperative PedsQL subgroups were tested for an association with demographic and perioperative characteristics using one-way ANOVA or chi-square analysis. Preoperative PedsQL subgroups were tested for an association with improvements in short- and intermediate-term PedsQL scores using one-way ANOVA and a paired Wilcoxon signed-rank test controlling for statistically different demographic characteristics when appropriate.
A total of 87 patients were included in this analysis. According to their preoperative PedsQL scores, 28% of patients had mild disability, 40% had moderate disability, and 32% had severe disability. There was a significant difference in the prevalence of comorbidities (p = 0.009) and the presenting symptoms of headaches (p = 0.032) and myelopathy (p = 0.047) among the subgroups; however, in terms of other demographic or operative factors, there was no significant difference. Patients with greater preoperative disability demonstrated statistically significantly lower PedsQL scores at all postoperative time points, except in terms of the parent-reported PedsQL at 6 months after surgery (p = 0.195). Patients with severe disability demonstrated statistically significantly greater improvements (compared to preoperative scores) in PedsQL scores at all time points after surgery, except in terms of the 6-week and 6-month PROs and the 6-month parent-reported outcomes (p = 0.068, 0.483, and 0.076, respectively).
Patients with severe disability, as assessed by the PedsQL, had lower absolute PedsQL scores at all time points after surgery but greater improvement in short- and intermediate-term PROs. The authors conclude that the PedsQL is an efficient and accurate tool that can quickly assess patient disability in the preoperative period and predict both short- and intermediate-term surgical outcomes.