Impact of Gender on Postsurgical Outcomes in Patients Undergoing Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Int J Spine Surg. 2022 Nov 23;8366. doi: 10.14444/8366. Online ahead of print.


Background: Prior studies associate male gender with higher complication rates following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), but none has investigated gender influence on patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and minimal clinically important difference (MCID) following single-level ACDF.

Methods: Patients undergoing primary, single-level ACDF were divided into female and male groups. Visual analog scale (VAS) neck/arm, Neck Disability Index (NDI), 12-item short form (SF-12) physical composite score (PCS), PROM information system physical function (PROMIS-PF), and veterans RAND 12-item (VR-12) health survey PCS were collected preoperatively and postoperatively. Simple linear regression analysis evaluated the predictive capability of gender on PROMs. Multiple regression analysis was performed to determine the effects of gender on mean PROMs while accounting for insurance type. Established MCID values determined achievement rates across PROMs. χ 2 analysis compared MCID achievement by gender.

Results: A total of 179 women and 134 men were included. Cohorts differed in insurance type, length of stay, and discharge day (P ≤ 0.017, all). Women improved in PROMs at all timepoints (P ≤ 0.049, all) except SF-12 PCS 6 weeks and PROMIS-PF 6 weeks. Men improved in PROMs at all timepoints (P ≤ 0.042) except VAS arm 2 years, SF-12 PCS 6 weeks and 2 years, PROMIS-PF 6 weeks, and VR-12 PCS 6 weeks. Women demonstrated higher SF-12 PCS (P = 0.043) and VR-12 PCS (P = 0.035) 2 years. Multiple regression determined that VAS neck and arm from 6 weeks to 6 months, NDI from preoperative to 6 months, SF-12 PCS and VR-12 PCS from preoperative to 12 weeks, and PROMIS-PF preoperative, 6 weeks, and 6 months were significantly affected by gender and insurance status (P ≤ 0.031, all). MCID achievement rate did not differ for any PROM between genders.

Conclusion: Women reported significantly higher long-term physical function health (SF-12 PCS and VR-12 PCS) compared with men, while disability and pain did not differ. Nevertheless, no significant differences in MCID achievement were observed for any PROM studied. Gender does not appear to play a significant role in clinically meaningful recovery following single-level ACDF.

Clinical relevance: Gender has little value in prognostication for determining clinically meaningful recovery after single-level ACDF.

Keywords: ACDF; MCID; PROM; gender.