Study design: The Morbidity and Mortality database of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) was queried as to the incidence and type of complications as reported by its members for the treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) with spinal fusion and instrumentation procedures regarding surgical approach (anterior, posterior, or combined anterior-posterior) during a recent 3-year period.
Objective: To evaluate the incidence of surgeon-reported complications in a large series of spinal fusions with instrumentation for a single spinal deformity diagnosis and age group regarding surgical approach.
Summary of background data: The SRS has been collecting morbidity and mortality data from its members since its formation in 1965 with the intent of using these data to assess the complications and adverse outcomes (death and/or spinal cord injury) of surgical treatment for spinal deformity. Surgical approaches to the management of treatment of AIS have a measurable impact on efficacy of correction, levels fused, and operative morbidity. However, there is a lack of consensus on the choice of surgical approach for the treatment of spinal deformity.
Methods: Of the 58,197 surgical cases submitted by members of the SRS in the years 2001, 2002, and 2003, 10.9% were identified as having had anterior, posterior, or combined spinal fusion with instrumentation for the diagnosis of AIS, and comprised the study cohort. All reported complications were tabulated and totaled for each of the 3 types of procedures, and statistical analysis was conducted.
Results: Complications were reported in 5.7% of the 6334 patients in this series. Of the 1164 patients who underwent anterior fusion and instrumentation, 5.2% had complications, of the 4369 who underwent posterior instrumentation and fusion, 5.1% had complications, and of the 801 who underwent combined instrumentation and fusion, 10.2% had complications. There were 2 patients (0.03%) who died of their complications. There was no statistical difference in overall complication rates between anterior and posterior procedures. However, the difference in complication rates between anterior or posterior procedures compared to combined procedures was highly significant (P < 0.0001). The differences in neurologic complication rates between combined and anterior procedures, as well as combined and posterior procedures were also highly statistically significant (P < 0.0001), but not between anterior and posterior procedures.
Conclusions: This study shows that complication rates are similar for anterior versus posterior approaches to AIS deformity correction. Combined anterior and posterior instrumentation and fusion has double the complication rate of either anterior or posterior instrumentation and fusion alone. Combined anterior and posterior instrumentation and fusion also has a significantly higher rate of neurologic complications than anterior or posterior instrumentation and fusion alone.