Background: Clinical practice in postoperative bracing after posterior lumbar spine fusion (PLF) is inconsistent between providers. This paper attempts to assess the effect of bracing on short-term outcomes related to safety, quality of care, and direct costs.
Methods: Retrospective cohort analysis of consecutive patients undergoing multilevel PLF with or without bracing (2013-2017) was undertaken (n = 980). Patient demographics and comorbidities were analyzed. Outcomes assessed included length of stay (LOS), discharge disposition, quality-adjusted life years (QALY), surgical-site infection (SSI), total cost, readmission within 30 days, and emergency department (ED) evaluation within 30 days.
Results: Amongst the study population, 936 were braced and 44 were not braced. There was no difference between the braced and unbraced cohorts regarding LOS (P = .106), discharge disposition (P = .898), 30-day readmission (P = .434), and 30-day ED evaluation (P = 1.000). There was also no difference in total cost (P = .230) or QALY gain (P = .740). The results indicate a significantly lower likelihood of SSI in the braced population (1.50% versus 6.82%, odds ratio = 0.208, 95% confidence interval = 0.057-0.751, P = .037). There was no difference in relevant comorbidities (P = .259-1.000), although the braced cohort was older than the unbraced cohort (63 versus 56 y, P = .003).
Conclusion: Bracing following multilevel posterior lumbar fixation does not alter short-term postoperative course or reduce the risk for early adverse events. Cost analysis show no difference in direct costs between the 2 treatment approaches. Short-term data suggest that removal of bracing from the postoperative regimen for PLF will not result in increased adverse outcomes.
International Journal of Spine Surgery
The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery
Dimentberg, R., Sinha, S., Glauser, G., Caplan, I. F., Schuster, J. M., McClintock, S., Yoon, J. W., Marcotte, P. J., Ali, Z. S., & Malhotra, N. R. (2021). Short-Term Impact of Bracing in Multi-Level Posterior Lumbar Spinal Fusion. International Journal of Spine Surgery, 15(5), 915-920. http://dx.doi.org/10.14444/8119