Thirty-Day Perioperative Outcomes in Spinal Fusion by Specialty Within the NSQIP Database

Brandon A. McCutcheon, Joseph D. Ciacci, Logan P. Marcus, Abraham Noorbakhsh, David D. Gonda, Randall McCafferty, William Taylor, Clark C. Chen, Bob S. Carter, David C. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Study Design. Cross-sectional analysis of the American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database between 2005 and 2011. Objective. To determine whether differences exist in 30-day rate of return to the operating room, mortality, and other perioperative outcomes for spinal fusion by specialty. Summary of Background Data. Although both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons perform spinal fusions, it is unclear whether surgeon specialty impacts perioperative outcomes. Methods. Unadjusted bivariate analysis was performed to determine whether outcomes differed by surgeon specialty. A Bonferroni correction was applied to account for multiple comparisons. For outcomes with a statistically significant association, further multivariate analysis was performed. Results. A total of 9719 patients receiving a spinal fusion were identified. Of them, 54.0% had their operation completed by a neurosurgeon. Orthopedic surgeons had practices with a greater percentage of lumbar spine cases (76.0% vs. 65.0%, P < 0.001). There was not a statistically significant difference in the number of levels fused or operative technique used between specialties. There was no difference in the majority of perioperative outcomes between orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons including death, rate of return to the operating room, and other complications associated with significant morbidity. On unadjusted analysis, it was found that neurosurgeons were associated with a decreased incidence of operations requiring blood transfusion relative to orthopedic surgeons (8.3% vs. 14.6%, P < 0.001). This trend persisted on multivariate analysis controlling for preoperative hematocrit, history of bleeding disorder, anatomical location of the operation, number of levels fused, operative technique, demographics, and comorbidities (odds ratio, 0.49; 95% confidence interval, 0.43-0.57). Conclusion. Spine surgeons, regardless of specialty, seem to achieve equivalent outcomes on measured metrics of mortality, 30-day readmission, and surgical site infection. Observed differences in blood transfusion rates by specialty were noted, but the cause of this difference is unclear and warrants further investigation to assess the impact of this difference, if any, on patient outcomes and cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1122-1131
Number of pages10
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2015


  • anterior interbody
  • blood transfusion
  • comparative effectiveness research
  • multivariate analysis
  • neurosurgery
  • orthopedic surgery
  • posterior interbody
  • spinal fusion
  • surgical outcomes research


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