How spine surgeon volume affects complication rate: 5 key notes


A new study published in Clinical Spine Surgery examines procedure volume and complication rate for surgeons performing anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.


The study authors evaluated 24,461 patients who underwent single and multi-level spinal fusions whose data was reported in the MarketScan database. The high-volume surgeons performed an average of at least 30 spinal fusions per year.


The study authors found:


1. More than half of the surgeons reported performing fewer than nine spinal fusions per year. The highest docile of surgeons reported performing 44 to 101 procedures per year.


2. The patients who underwent surgery performed by a high volume surgeon were less likely to report complications.


3. Complication rates among high volume surgeons were:


• Dysphagia: 2.22 percent
• Neurological complications: 0.33 percent
• New diagnosis of chronic pain: 0.48 percent
• Pulmonary complications: 1.1 percent
• Wound complications: 0.06 percent


4. The study authors demonstrated a possible association between high volume surgeons and decreased postoperative complications for spinal fusion.


5. There wasn't a difference between the revision rates or readmission rates for high volume surgeons when compared with other surgeons.


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