Trends in the presentation, surgical treatment, and outcomes of tethered cord syndrome: A nationwide study from 2001 to 2010

Cyrus M. Jalai, Charles Wang, Bryan J. Marascalchi, Samantha R. Horn, Gregory W. Poorman, Olivia J. Bono, Anthony K. Frempong-Boadu, Peter G. Passias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective This is a nationwide query into surgical management techniques for tethered cord syndrome, focusing on patient demographic, hospital characteristics, and treatment outcomes. Our hypothesis is that detethering vs. fusion for TCS results in different in-hospital complications. Materials and methods Retrospective review of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample 2001–2010. Inclusion: TCS discharges undergoing detethering or fusion. Sub-analysis compared TCS cases by age (pediatric [≤9 years] vs. adolescent [10–18 year]). Independent t-tests identified differences between fusion and detethering for hospital-related and surgical factors; multivariate analysis investigated procedure as a risk factor for complications/mortality. Results 6457 TCS discharges: 5844 detetherings, 613 fusions. Fusion TCS had higher baseline Deyo Index (0.16 vs. 0.06), procedure-related complications (21.3% vs. 7.63%), and mortality (0.33% vs. 0.09%) than detethering, all p < 0.001. Detethering for TCS was a significant factor for reducing mortality (OR 0.195, p < 0.001), cardiac (OR 0.27, p < 0.001), respiratory (OR 0.26, p < 0.001), digestive system (OR 0.32, p < 0.001), puncture nerve/vessel (OR 0.56, p = 0.009), wound (OR 0.25, p < 0.001), infection (OR 0.29, p < 0.001), posthemorrhagic anemia (OR 0.04, p = 0.002), ARDS (OR 0.13, p < 0.001), and venous thrombotic (OR 0.53, p = 0.043) complications. Detethering increased nervous system (OR 1.34, p = 0.049) and urinary (OR 2.60, p < 0.001) complications. Adolescent TCS had higher Deyo score (0.08 vs. 0.03, p < 0.001), LOS (5.77 vs. 4.13 days, p < 0.001), and charges ($54,592.28 vs. $33,043.83, p < 0.001), but similar mortality. Adolescent TCS discharges had increased prevalence of all procedure-related complications, and higher overall complication rate (11.10% vs. 5.08%, p < 0.001) than pediatric. Conclusions With fusion identified as a significant risk factor for mortality and multiple procedure-related complications in TCS surgical patients, this study could aid surgeons in counseling TCS patients to optimize outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-97
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Detethering vs. fusion
  • In-hospital complications
  • Surgical management
  • Tethered cord syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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