Poor Nutrition Status and Lumbar Spine Fusion Surgery in the Elderly: Readmissions, Complications, and Mortality

Varun Puvanesarajah, Amit Jain, Khaled Kebaish, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Daniel Sciubba, Rafael de la Garza-Ramos, A. Jay Khanna, Hamid Hassanzadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN.: Retrospective database review. OBJECTIVE.: To quantify the medical and surgical risks associated with elective lumbar spine fusion surgery in patients with poor pre-operative nutritional status and to assess how nutritional status alters length of stay and readmission rates. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: There has been recent interest in quantifying the increased risk of complications caused by frailty, an important consideration in elderly patients that is directly related to comorbidity burden. Pre-operative nutritional status is an important contributor to both sarcopenia and frailty and is poorly studied in the elderly spine surgery population. METHODS.: The full 100% sample of Medicare data from 2005–2012 was utilized to select all patients 65–84 years old who underwent elective 1–2 level posterior lumbar fusion for degenerative pathology. Patients with diagnoses of poor nutritional status within the three months preceding surgery were selected and compared to a control cohort. Outcomes that were assessed included major medical complications, infection, wound dehiscence, and mortality. Additionally, readmission rates and length of stay were evaluated. RESULTS.: When adjusting for demographics and comorbidities, malnutrition was determined to result in significantly increased odds of both 90-day major medical complications (Adjusted OR: 4.24) and 1-year mortality (Adjusted OR: 6.16). Multivariate analysis also demonstrated that malnutrition was a significant predictor of increased infection (Adjusted OR: 2.27) and wound dehiscence (Adjusted OR: 2.52) risk. Length of stay was higher in malnourished patients, though 30-day readmission rates were similar to controls. CONCLUSIONS.: Malnutrition significantly increases complication and mortality rates, while also significantly increasing length of stay. Nutritional supplementation prior to surgery should be considered to optimize post-operative outcomes in malnourished individuals.Level of Evidence: 3

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 9 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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