The rate of 30-day readmissions is rapidly gaining significance as a quality metric and is increasingly used to evaluate performance. An analysis of the present 30-day readmission rate in the spine literature is needed to aid the development of policies to decrease the frequency of readmissions. The authors examine 2 questions: 1) What is the 30-day readmission rate as reported in the spine literature? 2) What study factors impact the rate of 30-day readmissions?
This study was registered with Prospera (CRD42014015319), and 4 electronic databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and Google Scholar) were searched for articles. A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to assess the current 30-day readmission rate in spine surgery. Thirteen studies met inclusion criteria. The readmission rate as well as data source, time from enrollment, sample size, demographics, procedure type and spine level, risk factors for readmission, and causes of readmission were extrapolated from each study.
The pooled 30-day readmission rate was 5.5% (95% CI 4.2%–7.4%). Studies from single institutions reported the highest 30-day readmission rate at 6.6% (95% CI 3.8%–11.1%), while multicenter studies reported the lowest at 4.7% (95% CI 2.3%–9.7%). Time from enrollment had no statistically significant effect on the 30-day readmission rate. Studies including all spinal levels had a higher 30-day readmission rate (6.1%, 95% CI 4.1%–8.9%) than exclusively lumbar studies (4.6%, 95% CI 2.5%–8.2%); however, the difference between the 2 rates was not statistically significant (p = 0.43). The most frequently reported risk factors associated with an increased odds of 30-day readmission on multivariate analysis were an American Society of Anesthesiology score of 4+, operative duration, and Medicare/Medicaid insurance. The most common cause of readmission was wound complication (39.3%).
The 30-day readmission rate following spinal surgery is between 4.2% and 7.4%. The range, rather than the exact result, should be considered given the significant heterogeneity among studies, which indicates that there are factors such as demographics, procedure types, and individual institutional factors that are important and affect this outcome variable. The pooled analysis of risk factors and causes of readmission is limited by the lack of reporting in most of the spine literature.