Study finds correlation between telomere length and spine surgery complication risk


Short telomere length was linked to an increased risk of complications after spinal deformity surgery, according to a study in the Journal of Nerosurgery.

Four things to know:

1. Researchers studied 43 patients undergoing elective surgery for spinal deformity, according to the study published Dec. 2. The mean age of the group was 66 years.

2. The patients' telomere lengths were measured before surgery.

3. Twenty-two patients has a medical or surgical complication. Patients who had a postoperative complication had "significantly lower" telomere to single-copy gene abundances. Patients whose telomere length was in the shortest quartile had the highest risk of complications.

4. The study concluded: "Short telomere length was associated with an increased risk of postoperative complications despite only a mild difference in chronological age. Increasing comorbidity scores also trended toward significance. Larger prospective studies are needed; however, these data provide a compelling impetus to investigate the role of biological aging as a component of surgical risk stratification."

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