Bariatric Surgery Lowers Rates of Spinal Symptoms and Spinal Surgery in a Morbidly Obese Population

Clin Spine Surg. 2022 May 11. doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000001346. Online ahead of print.


Study design: Retrospective analysis of New York State Inpatient Database years 2004-2013.

Objective: Assess rates of spinal diagnoses and procedures before and after bariatric surgery (BS).

Summary of background data: BS for morbid obesity helps address common comorbidity burdens and improves quality of life for patients. The effects of BS on spinal disorders and surgical intervention have yet to be investigated.

Materials and methods: Patients included in analysis if they underwent BS and were seen at the hospital before and after this intervention. Spinal conditions and rates of surgery assessed before and after BS using χ2 tests for categorical variables. Multivariable logistic regression analysis used to compare rates in BS patients to control group of nonoperative morbidly obese patients. Logistic testing controlled for comorbidities, age, biological sex.

Results: A total of 73,046 BS patients included (age 67.88±17.66 y, 56.1% female). For regression analysis, 299,504 nonbariatric, morbidly obese patients included (age 53.45±16.52 y, 65.6% female). Overall, rates of spinal symptoms decreased following BS (7.40%-5.14%, P<0.001). Cervical, thoracic, lumbar spine diagnoses rates dropped from 3.28% to 2.99%, 2.91% to 2.57%, and 5.39% to 3.92% (all P<0.001), respectively. Most marked reductions seen in cervical spontaneous compression fractures, cervical disc herniation, thoracic radicular pain, spontaneous lumbar compression fractures, lumbar spinal stenosis, lumbar spondylosis. Controlling for comorbidities, age and sex, obese nonbariatric patients more likely to have encounters associated with several cervical, thoracic or lumbar spinal diagnoses and procedures, especially for cervical spontaneous compression fracture, radicular pain, lumbar spondylosis, lumbar spinal stenosis, posterior procedures. BS significantly lowered comorbidity burden for many specific factors.

Conclusions: BS lowered rates of documented spinal disorders and procedures in a morbidly obese population. These findings provide evidence of additional health benefits following BS, including reduction in health care encounters for spinal disorders and rates of surgical intervention.