The Influence of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors on Lumbar Arthrodesis

Clin Spine Surg. 2021 May 1;34(4):E200-E204. doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000001075.


Study design: Retrospective analysis using the PearlDiver national insurance claims database.

Objective: To investigate the relationship between chronic preoperative selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescriptions and nonunion following spine fusion surgery.

Summary of background data: Contemporary literature has linked SSRIs to decreased bone mineral density and increased rates of future bone fracture. Furthermore, a recent murine model has suggested a potential role in the quality of fracture healing itself.

Methods: All single-level lumbar fusion patients were identified. The rate of nonunion diagnosis between 6 and 24 months following surgery was assessed. A stratified analysis of chronic SSRI use and a number of comorbidities was conducted, followed by a multiple logistic regression analysis of nonunion accounting for qualifying risk factors. Finally, subanalyses of individual procedure codes were carried out.

Results: In total, 7905 single-level lumbar fusion patients were included. In the multivariate analysis, chronic SSRI [odds ratio (OR): 1.558, P=0.004] and tobacco use (OR: 1.500, P=0.011) were identified as independent risk factors for nonunion, whereas patient age over 60 years (OR: 0.468, P<0.001) was observed to be negatively associated with nonunion. In the individual procedure subanalyses, SSRIs were significantly associated with nonunion in 2 of 3 univariate analyses and observed to be an independent risk factor for nonunion in 2 of the 3 procedure populations.

Conclusions: These data suggest that patients treated concomitantly for mental health disorders with SSRIs before arthrodesis may be at an increased risk of postoperative nonunion. Closer follow-up may be indicated in this patient population.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthrodesis
  • Fractures, Bone*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors* / adverse effects


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors