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Ross C. Puffer, Ryan Planchard, Grant W. Mallory, and Michelle J. Clarke


Health care-related costs after lumbar spine surgery vary depending on procedure type and patient characteristics. Age, body mass index (BMI), number of spinal levels, and presence of comorbidities probably have significant effects on overall costs. The present study assessed the impact of patient characteristics on hospital costs in patients undergoing elective lumbar decompressive spine surgery.


This study was a retrospective review of elective lumbar decompression surgeries, with a focus on specific patient characteristics to determine which factors drive postoperative, hospital-related costs. Records between January 2010 and July 2012 were searched retrospectively. Only elective lumbar decompressions including discectomy or laminectomy were included. Cost data were obtained using a database that allows standardization of a list of hospital costs to the fiscal year 2013–2014. The relationship between cost and patient factors including age, BMI, and American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Physical Status Classification System grade were analyzed using Student t-tests, ANOVA, and multivariate regression analyses.


There were 1201 patients included in the analysis, with a mean age of 61.6 years. Sixty percent of patients in the study were male. Laminectomies were performed in 557 patients (46%) and discectomies in 644 (54%). Laminectomies led to an increased hospital stay of 1.4 days (p < 0.001) and increased hospital costs by $1523 (p < 0.001) when compared with discectomies. For laminectomies, age, BMI, ASA grade, number of levels, and durotomy all led to significantly increased hospital costs and length of stay on univariate analysis, but ASA grade and presence of a durotomy did not maintain significance on multivariate analysis for hospital costs. For a laminectomy, patient age ≥ 65 years was associated with a 0.6-day increased length of stay and a $945 increase in hospital costs when compared with patient age < 65 years (p < 0.001). A durotomy during a laminectomy increased length of stay by 1.0 day and increased hospital costs by $1382 (p < 0.03). For discectomies, age, ASA grade, and durotomy were significantly associated with increased hospital costs on univariate analysis, but BMI was not. Only age and presence of a durotomy maintained significance on multivariate analysis. There was a significant increase in hospital length of stay in patients undergoing discectomy with increasing age, BMI, ASA grade, and presence of a durotomy on univariate analysis. However, only age and presence of a durotomy maintained significance on multivariate analysis. For discectomies, age ≥ 65 years was associated with a 0.7-day increased length of stay (p < 0.001) and an increase of $931 in postoperative hospital costs (p < 0.01) when compared with age < 65 years.


Patient factors such as age, BMI, and comorbidities have significant and measurable effects on the postoperative hospital costs of elective lumbar decompression spinal surgeries. Knowledge of how these factors affect costs will become important as reimbursement models change.

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Ryan Planchard, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman, and Daniel Sciubba

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Daniel Lubelski, James Feghali, Amy S. Nowacki, Vincent J. Alentado, Ryan Planchard, Kalil G. Abdullah, Daniel M. Sciubba, Michael P. Steinmetz, Edward C. Benzel, and Thomas E. Mroz


Patient demographics, comorbidities, and baseline quality of life (QOL) are major contributors to postoperative outcomes. The frequency and cost of lumbar spine surgery has been increasing, with controversy revolving around optimal management strategies and outcome predictors. The goal of this study was to generate predictive nomograms and a clinical calculator for postoperative clinical and QOL outcomes following lumbar spine surgery for degenerative disease.


Patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery for degenerative disease at a single tertiary care institution between June 2009 and December 2012 were retrospectively reviewed. Nomograms and an online calculator were modeled based on patient demographics, comorbidities, presenting symptoms and duration of symptoms, indication for surgery, type and levels of surgery, and baseline preoperative QOL scores. Outcomes included postoperative emergency department (ED) visit or readmission within 30 days, reoperation within 90 days, and 1-year changes in the EuroQOL-5D (EQ-5D) score. Bootstrapping was used for internal validation.


A total of 2996 lumbar surgeries were identified. Thirty-day ED visits were seen in 7%, 30-day readmission in 12%, 90-day reoperation in 3%, and improvement in EQ-5D at 1 year that exceeded the minimum clinically important difference in 56%. Concordance indices for the models predicting ED visits, readmission, reoperation, and dichotomous 1-year improvement in EQ-5D were 0.63, 0.66, 0.73, and 0.84, respectively. Important predictors of clinical outcomes included age, body mass index, Charlson Comorbidity Index, indication for surgery, preoperative duration of symptoms, and the type (and number of levels) of surgery. A web-based calculator was created, which can be accessed here:


The prediction tools derived from this study constitute important adjuncts to clinical decision-making that can offer patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery realistic and personalized expectations of postoperative outcome. They may also aid physicians in surgical planning, referrals, and counseling to ultimately lead to improved patient experience and outcomes.