6 things to know on spinal deformity surgery for patients 60+ years old — volume, complications & cost


A new study published in The Spine Journal examined whether the increase in spinal deformity patients age 60 and older was associated with more complications.

The researchers examined the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for adult patients who underwent spinal fusion for eight or more levels from 2004 to 2011. The researchers found:


1. There were around 29,237 adult patients who underwent spinal fusions at eight or more levels over the study period. In 2004, there were 2,137 adult patients undergoing spinal deformity surgery; by 2011 the number grew to 5,030.


2. The surgical incidence among patients 60 years and older grew from 1.9 per 100,000 people in 2004 to 6.5 cases per 100,000 people in 2011. At the same time, utilization among younger patients only rose from 0.59 per 100,000 people to 0.93 per 100,000 people.


3. The largest surgical utilization increase was for patients 65- to 69-years-old. The utilization grew by 0.68 patients per 100,000 people per year. The second largest growth rate was for patients 70- to 74-years-old, growing at a rate of 0.56 per 100,000 people.


4. The complication rate grew slightly over the study period, hitting 22.5 percent in 2004 and 26.7 percent in 2011.


5. The complication risk was associated with the patient's age, but among the age groups complication rates were stable over time.


6. The average length of stay at hospitals for the spinal deformity surgery in patients 60 years and older was 9.6 days in 2004 and dropped slightly to nine days in 2011. The inflation-adjusted average hospital charges increased from $171,517 in 2004 to $303,479 in 2011.


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