Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop a stratification scheme for surgical spinal care to serve as a framework for referrals and distribution of patients with spinal disorders.
Methods: We used a modified Delphi process. A literature search identified experts for the consensus panel and the panel was expanded by inviting spine surgeons known to be global opinion leaders. After creating a seed document of five hierarchical levels of surgical care, a four-step modified Delphi process (question validation, collection of factors, evaluation of factors, re-evaluation of factors) was performed.
Results: Of 78 invited experts, 19 participated in round 1, and of the 19, 14 participated in 2, and 12 in 3 and 4. Consensus was fairly heterogeneous for levels of care 2-4 (moderate resources). Only simple assessment methods based on the clinical skills of the medical personnel were considered feasible and safe in low-resource settings. Diagnosis, staging, and treatment were deemed feasible and safe in a specialized spine center. Accurate diagnostic workup was deemed feasible and safe for lower levels of care complexity (from level 3 upwards) compared to non-invasive procedures (level 4) and the full range of invasive procedures (level 5).
Conclusion: This study introduces a five-level stratification scheme for the surgical care of spinal disorders. This stratification may provide input into the Global Spine Care Initiative care pathway that will be applied in medically underserved areas and low- and middle-income countries. These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.
Keywords: Delivery of health care; General surgery; Health care facilities, manpower, and services; Operative; Spine; Surgical procedures.