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A. Noelle Larson, David W. Polly Jr., Stacey J. Ackerman, Charles G. T. Ledonio, Baron S. Lonner, Suken A. Shah, John B. Emans, B. Stephens Richards III, and Minimize Implants Maximize Outcomes Study Group

OBJECT

There is substantial heterogeneity in the number of screws used per level fused in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) surgery. Assuming equivalent clinical outcomes, the potential cost savings of using fewer pedicle screws were estimated using a medical decision model with sensitivity analysis.

METHODS

Descriptive analyses explored the annual costs for 5710 AIS inpatient stays using discharge data from the 2009 Kids’ Inpatient Database (Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), which is a national all-payer inpatient database. Patients between 10 and 17 years of age were identified using the ICD-9-CM code for idiopathic scoliosis (737.30). All inpatient stays were assumed to represent 10-level fusions with pedicle screws for AIS. High screw density was defined at 1.8 screws per level fused, and the standard screw density was defined as 1.48 screws per level fused. The surgical return for screw malposition was set at $23,762. A sensitivity analysis was performed by varying the cost per screw ($600–$1000) and the rate of surgical revisions for screw malposition (0.117%–0.483% of screws; 0.8%–4.3% of patients). The reported outcomes include estimated prevented malpositioned screws (set at 5.1%), averted revision surgeries, and annual cost savings in 2009 US dollars, assuming similar clinical outcomes (rates of complications, revision) using a standard- versus high-density pattern.

RESULTS

The total annual costs for 5710 AIS hospital stays was $278 million ($48,900 per patient). Substituting a high for a standard screw density yields 3.2 fewer screws implanted per patient, with 932 malpositioned screws prevented and 21 to 88 revision surgeries for implant malposition averted, and a potential annual cost savings of $11 million to $20 million (4%–7% reduction in the total cost of AIS hospitalizations).

CONCLUSIONS

Reducing the number of screws used in scoliosis surgery could potentially decrease national AIS hospitalization costs by up to 7%, which may improve the safety and efficiency of care. However, such a screw construct must first be proven safe and effective.

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M. Omar Iqbal, Amer F. Samdani, Joshua M. Pahys, Peter O. Newton, Suken A. Shah, Tracey P. Bastrom, Paul D. Sponseller, Firoz Miyanji, and Steven W. Hwang

OBJECTIVE

Spontaneous lumbar curve correction after selective thoracic fusion in surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is well described. However, only a few articles have described the course of the uninstrumented upper thoracic (UT) curve after fusion, and the majority involve a hybrid construct. In this study, the authors sought to determine the outcomes and associated factors of uninstrumented UT curves in patients with AIS.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed a prospectively collected multicenter AIS registry for all consecutive patients with Lenke type 1–4 curves with a 2-year minimum follow-up. UT curves were considered uninstrumented if the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) did not extend above 1 level from the lower end vertebra of the UT curve. The authors defined progression as > 5°, and divided patients into two cohorts: those with improvement in the UT curve (IMP) and those without improvement in the UT curve (NO IMP). Radiographic, demographic, and Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)–22 survey outcome measures were compared using univariate analysis, and significant factors were compared using a multivariate regression model.

RESULTS

The study included 450 patients (370 females and 80 males). The UT curve self-corrected in 86% of patients (n = 385), there was no change in 14% (n = 65), and no patients worsened. Preoperatively, patients were similar with respect to Lenke classification (p = 0.44), age (p = 0.31), sex (p = 0.85), and Risser score (p = 0.14). The UT curves in the IMP group self-corrected from 24.7° ± 6.5° to 12.6° ± 5.9°, whereas in the NO IMP group UT curves remained the same, from 20.3° ± 5.8° to 18.5° ± 5.7°. In a multivariate analysis, preoperative main thoracic (MT) curve size (p = 0.004) and MT curve correction (p = 0.001) remained significant predictors of UT curve improvement. Greater correction of the MT curve and larger initial MT curve size were associated with greater likelihood of UT curve improvement.

CONCLUSIONS

Spontaneous UT curve correction occurred in the majority (86%) of unfused UT curves after MT curve correction in Lenke 1–4 curve types. The magnitude of preoperative MT curve size and postoperative MT curve correction were independent predictors of spontaneous UT curve correction.