Patients' perspective on full disclosure and informed consent regarding postoperative visual loss associated with spinal surgery in the prone position

Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 Sep;86(9):865-8. doi: 10.4065/mcp.2011.0279.


Objective: To determine patients' opinions regarding the person, method, and timing for disclosure of postoperative visual loss (POVL) associated with high-risk surgery.

Patients and methods: On the basis of findings of a pilot study involving 219 patients at Mayo Clinic in Florida, we hypothesized that at least 80% of patients would prefer disclosure of POVL by the surgeon, during a face-to-face discussion, before the day of scheduled surgery. To test the hypothesis, we sent a questionnaire to 437 patients who underwent prolonged prone spinal surgical procedures at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, or Mayo Clinic in Arizona from December 1, 2008, to December 31, 2009.

Results: Among the 184 respondents, 158 patients gave responses supporting the hypothesis vs 26 with at least 1 response not supporting it, for an observed incidence of 86%. The 2-sided 95% confidence interval is 80% to 91%.

Conclusion: At least 80% of patients prefer full disclosure of the risk of POVL, by the surgeon, during a face-to-face discussion before the day of scheduled surgery. This finding supports development of a national patient-driven guideline for disclosing the risk of POVL before prone spinal surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Disclosure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Perception
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Prone Position*
  • Spinal Cord / surgery*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology
  • Vision Disorders / prevention & control*