The Impact of Depression and Anxiety on Perioperative Outcomes and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Physical Function After Thoracolumbar Surgery

Int J Spine Surg. 2022 Nov 23;8365. doi: 10.14444/8365. Online ahead of print.


Background: Depression and anxiety are common within spine patient populations. The demand for surgical management of degenerative spine conditions and the prevalence of mental disorders are expected to increase as the general population ages. Concurrently, there is increasing pressure to demonstrate high-value care through improved perioperative outcome metrics and patient-reported outcome instruments. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of common mental disorders on perioperative markers of high resource utilization and patient-reported outcomes measurement information system physical function (PROMIS-PF) following thoracolumbar (TL) spine surgery.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients undergoing TL decompression alone or with fusion at a single institution. Data were collected using an administrative database for patient demographics. Outcomes of interest included length of stay, discharge disposition, 90-day return to the emergency department (ED), 90-day hospital readmission, 1-year complication rate, 1-year revision surgery rate, 1-year residual radiculopathy, and PROMIS-PF scores recorded preoperatively, at 0 to 1, 1 to 3, 3 to 6, and 6 to 12 months postoperatively. Univariate analysis and multiple linear regression were utilized to analyze results.

Results: A total of 596 patients were included in this study, of whom 205 (34%) had a history of depression or anxiety. Compared with patients with no history of a mental disorder, patients with depression or anxiety who underwent TL decompression alone had higher rates of 90-day ED visits (P = 0.019), 90-day readmissions (P = 0.031), and complications at 1 year (P = 0.012). After risk adjustment, the diagnosis of depression or anxiety had no significant effect on PROMIS-PF improvement from the preoperative to postoperative period.

Conclusion: Our study suggests that a history of depression or anxiety is common among patients undergoing spine surgery but has no significant impact on PROMIS-PF improvement. Because some patients with depression or anxiety may be at higher risk of postoperative resource utilization, further study and effort are warranted to support at-risk groups and improve overall care value.

Clinical relevance: Although patients with depression or anxiety are at risk for increased resource utilization after TL decompression or fusion, they can experience similar levels of functional improvement as patients without these conditions. Therefore depression or anxiety should not be considered contraindications to surgery, but additional attention should be paid to this population during the postoperative recovery period.

Keywords: PROMIS; anxiety; depression; outcomes; spine surgery.