Inpatient versus Outpatient Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion: A Perioperative Complication Analysis of 259,414 Patients From the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Databases

Int J Spine Surg. 2017 Apr 3;11(2):11. doi: 10.14444/4011. eCollection 2017.


Background: Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is one of the most common operations utilized to address pathology of the cervical spine. Few reports have attempted to compare complications associated with inpatient versus outpatient ACDF.

Methods: The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) from 2001-2012 and the State Ambulatory Services Database (SASD) for New Jersey (NJ) from 2003-2012 were used for analysis. Patients receiving ACDF (defined as anterior cervical fusion (ICD-0 code=81.02) + excision of intervertebral disc (80.51)) were segmented into an inpatient group derived from the NIS, and an outpatient group derived from the NJ SASD. Patients receiving > 2 levels fused (ICD-9 codes 81.63-81.64), or surgery for cancer (ICD-9 codes 140-239), or trauma (ICD-9 codes=805.0-806.9) were excluded. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to adjust the analysis for patient age, race, sex, primary payer for care, and number of medical diagnoses.

Results: Of the 94,492,438 inpatients comprising the NIS from 2001-2012, 257,398 received ACDF. Of the 4,194,207 outpatients comprising the NJ SASD, 2,016 received ACDF. PSM of 10,080 patients (all 2,016 SASD and 8,064 from NIS) was performed, and subsequent analysis revealed that durotomy (P=0.001;OR=0.81), paraplegia, postoperative infection, hematoma/seroma (OR=0.14), respiratory complications, acute posthemorrhagic anemia and red blood cell transfusion (all P<0.001) were less frequent in outpatient versus inpatient ACDF (p<0.05). These results were similar to an unmatched analysis involving all of the NIS patients.

Conclusion: Accepting the limitations of the NIS and SASD (inability to distinguish between one and two-level fusions, no long-term follow-up, potential selection bias, disparities between inpatient and outpatient ACDF populations), these findings indicate that for 1-2 level ACDF, perioperative complications, including durotomy, paraplegia, hematoma, and acute posthemorrhagic anemia were more commonly reported following inpatient ACDF. Future studies involving outpatient analysis of several states will be necessary to determine whether these results of outpatient ACDF are applicable nationwide.

Keywords: anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; inpatient; nationwide inpatient sample; outpatient; perioperative outcomes; state ambulatory and services database.