Predictive Factors for Postoperative Follow-up: Which Patients are Prone to Loss to Follow-up After Spinal Surgery?

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Study Design:Retrospective cohort study.Objective:To find out the predictive factors for the failure to follow-up in patients who underwent spinal surgery.Summary of Background Data:Causes for loss to follow-up range from geographical accessibility to dissatisfaction with surgeons. There were few reports that investigated loss to follow-up after spinal surgery.Methods:A total of 649 patients who underwent laminectomy and 193 patients who underwent L4–L5 fusion from August 2006 to August 2013 were enrolled in this retrospective study. In each surgical group, demographic data and comorbidities as assessed by the Charlson index were investigated and analyzed for correlation with follow-up. The between-group difference of failure to follow-up was also evaluated.Results:The fusion group (n=193) was more likely to follow-up and the between-group difference was statistically significant (P=0.047). In the laminectomy group (n=649), 271 patients (41.8%) made regular hospital visits. Those who were male, had a spouse, or had fewer comorbidities were less prone to loss to follow-up (P<0.001). Other parameters including age, number of spinal segments operated on during surgery, distance from home to hospital, income, education level, and whether or not patients exercised were also significantly correlated with follow-up compliance (P>0.05). In contrast, 51.8% (n=100) of patients who underwent fusion had regular follow-ups. The fusion group showed a statistical difference in follow-up rate based only on sex (P=0.002).Conclusions:Our study shows that patients who underwent decompression alone were less likely to attend follow-up than were patients who underwent fusion surgery. Whereas the factors correlated with loss to follow-up after laminectomy alone were sex, marital status, and number of comorbidities, the only predictor after fusion was male sex. Sex was the only shared risk factor for loss to follow-up.Level of Evidence:Level III.

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