Age as a Predictor for Complications and Patient-reported Outcomes in Multilevel Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusions: Analyses From the Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative (MSSIC)

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Spine (Phila Pa 1976)


STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review of a multi-institutional data registry.

OBJECTIVE: The authors sought to determine the association between age and complications & patient-reported outcomes (PRO) in patients undergoing multilevel transforaminal interbody lumbar fusion (MTLIF).

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Elderly patients undergoing MTLIF are considered high risk. However, data on complications and PRO are lacking. Additionally, safety of multilevel lumbar fusion in the elderly remains uncertain.

METHODS: Patients ≥50-year-old who underwent MTLIF for degenerative lumbar spine conditions were analyzed. Ninety-day complications and PROs (baseline, 90-d, 1-y, 2-y) were queried using the MSSIC database. PROs were measured by back & leg visual analog scale (VAS), Patient-reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS), EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D), and North American Spine Society (NASS) Patient Satisfaction Index. Univariate analyses were used to compare among elderly and complication cohorts. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) was used to identify predictors of complications and PROs.

RESULTS: A total of 3120 patients analyzed with 961 (31%) ≥ 70-y-o and 2159 (69%) between 50-69. A higher proportion of elderly experienced postoperative complications (P = .003) including urinary retention (P = <.001) and urinary tract infection (P = .002). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that age was not independently associated with complications. Number of operative levels was associated with any (P = .001) and minor (P = .002) complication. Incurring a complication was independently associated with worse leg VAS and PROMIS scores (P = <.001). Preoperative independent ambulation was independently associated with improved PROMIS, and EQ5D (P = <.001). Within the elderly, preoperative independent ambulation and lower BMI were associated with improved PROMIS (P = <.001). Complications had no significant effect on PROs in the elderly.

CONCLUSIONS: Age was not associated with complications nor predictive of functional outcomes in patients who underwent MTLIF. Age alone, therefore, may not be an appropriate surrogate for risk. Furthermore, baseline preoperative independent ambulation was associated with better clinical outcomes and should be considered during preoperative surgical counseling.

Level of Evidence: 3.

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