Comparative in-hospital morbidity and mortality after revision versus primary thoracic and lumbar spine fusion

Spine J. 2010 Oct;10(10):881-9. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2010.07.391.


Background context: Despite increasing utilization of surgical spine fusions, a paucity of literature addressing perioperative complications after revision posterior spinal fusion (RPSF) versus primary posterior spine fusion (PPSF) of the thoracic and lumbar spine exists.

Purpose: To examine demographics of patients undergoing PPSF and RPSF of the thoracic and lumbar spine, assess the incidence of perioperative morbidity and mortality, and determine independent risk factors for in-hospital death.

Study design/setting: Analysis of nationally representative data collected for the National Inpatient Sample (NIS).

Patient sample: All discharges included in the NIS with a procedure code for posterior thoracic and lumbar spine fusion from 1998 to 2006.

Outcome measures: In-hospital mortality and morbidity.

Methods: Data collected for each year between 1998 and 2006 for the NIS were analyzed. Discharges with a procedure code for thoracic and lumbar spine fusion were included in the sample. The prevalence of patient- as well as health care-related demographics was evaluated by procedure type (primary vs. revision). Frequencies of procedure-related complications and in-hospital mortality were analyzed. Independent predictors for in-hospital mortality were determined.

Results: We identified 222,549 PPSF and 12,474 RPSF discharges between 1998 and 2006. Patients undergoing PPSF were significantly younger (51.23 years; confidence interval [CI]=51.16, 51.31) and had lower average comorbidity indices (0.40; CI=0.39, 0.41) than those undergoing RPSF (52.69 years; CI=52.43, 52.97) and (0.44; CI=0.43, 0.45), p<.0001. The incidence of procedure-related complications was 16.02% among RPSF compared with 13.44% in PPSF patients (p<.0001). In-hospital mortality rates after PPSF were approximately twice those of RPSF (0.28% vs. 0.15%, p=.006). Adjusted risk factors for increased in-hospital mortality included PPSF compared with RPSF, male gender, and increasing age. A number of comorbidities, complications, and specific surgical indications increased the risk for perioperative death.

Conclusion: Despite being performed in generally younger and healthier patients and having lower perioperative morbidity, PPSF procedures are associated with increased mortality compared with RPSF procedures. The findings of this study can be used for risk stratification, accurate patient consultation, and hypothesis formation for future research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Reoperation / adverse effects
  • Reoperation / mortality*
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Spinal Fusion / adverse effects
  • Spinal Fusion / mortality*
  • Spinal Fusion / statistics & numerical data
  • Thoracic Vertebrae