Long-Term Complications in Adult Spinal Deformity Patients Having Combined Surgery: A Comparison of Primary to Revision Patients

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Abstract

Study Design.

This is a comparison of primary (N = 18) to revision (N = 26) combined (anterior and posterior surgery) adult spinal deformity patients with regard to late (>6 months) complications and radiographic/functional outcomes at a minimum 2-year follow-up.

Objectives.

To determine whether revision status increases the risk of late complications or offers a poor prognosis for functional outcome in adult deformity patients.

Summary of Background Data.

It is known that patients who have combined surgery for adult deformity have a high incidence of perioperative complications. Long-term complications and the effect of revision status have not been clarified in the literature. The functional outcomes for these patients are unclear as to whether or not there is a difference between primary and revision patients. Outside the arena of adult spinal deformity the functional outcomes for revision cases have been disappointing.

Methods.

A consecutive series of 44 patients who underwent combined procedures for adult spinal deformity were followed for a minimum of 2 years (average follow-up 42 months). Clinical data were obtained by chart and radiographic review. Major complications were considered to be deep wound infection, pseudarthrosis, transition syndrome, neurologic deficit, and death. Minor complications considered were asymptomatic instrumentation failure (without loss of correction), instrumentation prominence requiring removal, and proximal or distal junctional segmental kyphosis (5–10°) or subsequent disc space narrowing of 2–5 mm without clinical symptoms. The patients also completed the AAOS Lumbar/Scoliosis MODEMS questionnaires aimed at assessing pain, function, and satisfaction.

Results.

Minor complications were comparable in both groups: 4 of 18 (22%) in the primary group and 6 of 26 (23%) in the revision group. Major complications were slightly more frequent in the primary group with five complications in 4 patients (4 of 18 patients) (22%) compared with 3 of 26 patients (12%) in the revision group. The incidence of pseudarthrosis was 22% (4 of 18) for the primary group and 4% (1 of 26) for the revision group (P < 0.14). Forty of 44 patients completed the questionnaires. The primary patients functioned at a slightly higher level after surgery than the revision group. The level of pain was also slightly lower at final follow-up in the primary group. Despite these differences, the revision group had a higher level of patient satisfaction.

Conclusion.

At a minimum 2-year follow-up the late complications were not higher in the revision patients than in the primary group. The rate of major long-term complications, specifically pseudarthroses, was higher in the primary group. Patient satisfaction was higher in the revision patients, probably because they were experiencing a greater level of perceived pain and dysfunction at the time of their reconstruction.

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