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Patients seeking cervical spine surgery are thought to be increasing in age, comorbidities and functional debilitation. The changing demographics of this population may significantly impact the outcomes of their care, specifically with regards to complications. In this study, our goals were to determine the rates of functionally dependent patients undergoing elective cervical spine procedures and to assess the effect of functional dependence on 30-day morbidity and mortality using a large, validated national cohort.A retrospective analysis of the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data files from 2006 to 2013 was conducted to identify patients undergoing common cervical spine procedures. Multivariate logistic regression models were generated to analyse the independent association of functional dependence with 30-day outcomes of interest.Patients with lower functional status had significantly higher rates of medical comorbidities. Even after accounting for these comorbidities, type of procedure and preoperative diagnosis, analyses demonstrated that functional dependence was independently associated with significantly increased odds of sepsis (odds ratio (OR) 5.04), pulmonary (OR 4.61), renal (OR 3.33) and cardiac complications (OR 4.35) as well as mortality (OR 11.08).Spine surgeons should be aware of the inherent risks of these procedures with the functionally dependent patient population when deciding on whether to perform cervical spine surgery, delivering pre-operative patient counselling, and providing peri-operative management and surveillance.