Reduced influence of affective disorders on perioperative complication rates, length of hospital stay, and healthcare costs following spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2019 Sep 6;24(6):722-727. doi: 10.3171/2019.7.PEDS19223.


Objective: In the past decade, a gradual transition of health policy to value-based healthcare has brought increased attention to measuring the quality of care delivered. In spine surgery, adolescents with scoliosis are a population particularly at risk for depression, anxious feelings, and impaired quality of life related to back pain and cosmetic appearance of the deformity. With the rising prevalence of mental health ailments, it is necessary to evaluate the impact of concurrent affective disorders on patient care after spinal surgery in adolescents. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact that affective disorders have on perioperative complication rates, length of stay (LOS), and total costs in adolescents undergoing elective posterior spinal fusion (PSF) (≥ 4 levels) for idiopathic scoliosis.

Methods: A retrospective study of the Kids' Inpatient Database for the year 2012 was performed. Adolescent patients (age range 10-17 years old) with AIS undergoing elective PSF (≥ 4 levels) were selected using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification coding system. Patients were categorized into 2 groups at discharge: affective disorder or no affective disorder. Patient demographics, comorbidities, complications, LOS, discharge disposition, and total cost were assessed. The primary outcomes were perioperative complication rates, LOS, total cost, and discharge dispositions.

Results: There were 3759 adolescents included in this study, of whom 164 (4.4%) were identified with an affective disorder (no affective disorder: n = 3595). Adolescents with affective disorders were significantly older than adolescents with no affective disorders (affective disorder: 14.4 ± 1.9 years vs no affective disorder: 13.9 ± 1.8 years, p = 0.001), and had significantly different proportions of race (p = 0.005). Aside from hospital region (p = 0.016), no other patient- or hospital-level factors differed between the cohorts. Patient comorbidities did not differ significantly between cohorts. The number of vertebral levels involved was similar between the cohorts, with the majority of patients having 9 or more levels involved (affective disorder: 76.8% vs no affective disorder: 79.5%, p = 0.403). Postoperative complications were similar between the cohorts, with no significant difference in the proportion of patients experiencing a postoperative complication (p = 0.079) or number of complications (p = 0.124). The mean length of stay and mean total cost were similar between the cohorts. Moreover, the routine and nonroutine discharge dispositions were also similar between the cohorts, with the majority of patients having routine discharges (affective disorder: 93.9% vs no affective disorder: 94.9%, p = 0.591).

Conclusions: This study suggests that affective disorders may not have a significant impact on surgical outcomes in adolescent patients undergoing surgery for scoliosis in comparison with adults. Further studies are necessary to elucidate how affective disorders affect adolescent patients with idiopathic scoliosis, which may improve provider approach in managing these patients perioperatively and at follow-up in hopes to better the overall patient satisfaction and quality of care delivered.

Keywords: KID; Kids’ Inpatient Database; adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; affective disorder; spinal fusion; spine.