Disparities in outcomes after spine surgery: a Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative study

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of neurosurgery: Spine


OBJECTIVE: Most studies on racial disparities in spine surgery lack data granularity to control for both comorbidities and self-assessment metrics. Analyses from large, multicenter surgical registries can provide an enhanced platform for understanding different factors that influence outcome. In this study, the authors aimed to determine the effects of race on outcomes after lumbar surgery, using patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in 3 areas: the North American Spine Society patient satisfaction index, the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) for low-back pain, and return to work.

METHODS: The Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative was queried for all elective lumbar operations. Patient race/ethnicity was categorized as Caucasian, African American, and "other." Measures of association between race and PROs were calculated with generalized estimating equations (GEEs) to report adjusted risk ratios.

RESULTS: The African American cohort consisted of a greater proportion of women with the highest comorbidity burden. Among the 7980 and 4222 patients followed up at 1 and 2 years postoperatively, respectively, African American patients experienced the lowest rates of satisfaction, MCID on ODI, and return to work. Following a GEE, African American race decreased the probability of satisfaction at both 1 and 2 years postoperatively. Race did not affect return to work or achieving MCID on the ODI. The variable of greatest association with all 3 PROs at both follow-up times was postoperative depression.

CONCLUSIONS: While a complex myriad of socioeconomic factors interplay between race and surgical success, the authors identified modifiable risk factors, specifically depression, that may improve PROs among African American patients after elective lumbar spine surgery.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print

First Page


Last Page