Postoperative Emergency Department Utilization and Hospital Readmission After Cervical Spine Arthrodesis: Rates, Trends, Causes, and Risk Factors

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Abstract

Study Design.

Retrospective state database analysis.

Objective.

To quantify the 30- and 90-day emergency department (ED) utilization and inpatient readmission rates after primary cervical arthrodesis, to stratify these findings by surgical approach, and to describe risk factors and conditions precipitating these events.

Summary of Background Data.

Limited data exist on ED utilization and hospital readmission rates after cervical spine arthrodesis.

Methods.

The New York State all-payer health-care database was queried to identify all 87,045 patients who underwent primary subaxial cervical arthrodesis from 1997 through 2012. Demographic data and clinical information were extracted. Readmission data were available for the entire study period, whereas ED utilization data collection began later and was therefore analyzed starting in 2005. Incidences of these events within 30 and 90 days of discharge as well as trends over time were tabulated. The conditions prompting these encounters were also collected. Data were analyzed with respect to surgical approach.

Results.

The hospital readmission rate was 4.2% at 30 days and 6.2% at 90 days postoperatively. Approximately 6.2% of patients were managed in the ED without inpatient admission within 30 days and 11.3% within 90 days of surgery. The most common conditions prompting such events were dysphagia or dysphonia, respiratory complications, and infection. ED utilization and readmission rates were lowest after anterior surgeries. A preoperative Charlson Comorbidity Index of 1 or greater and traumatic pathologies were associated with increased risk of subsequent ED utilization or hospital readmission. Thirty-day hospital readmission rates declined after 2010, whereas 30-day ED utilization continued to increase.

Conclusion.

Patient comorbidities, traumatic pathologies, and surgical approach are associated with increased postoperative complications. Anterior procedures carry the lowest risk, followed by posterior and then circumferential. Awareness of these findings should help to encourage development of strategies to minimize the rate of postoperative ED utilization and hospital readmission.

Conclusion.

Level of Evidence: 3

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