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OBJECTIVE: There are limited data evaluating the out-comes of attending neurosurgeons with different types of first assistants. This study considers a common neurosurgical procedure (single-level, posterior-only lumbar fusion surgery) and examines whether attending surgeons deliver equal patient outcomes, regardless of the type of first assistant (resident physician vs. nonphysician surgical assistant [NPSA]), among otherwise exact-matched patients. -METHODS: The authors retrospectively analyzed 3395 adult patients undergoing single-level, posterior-only lumbar fusion at a single academic medical center. Primary outcomes included readmissions, emergency department visits, reoperation, and mortality within 30 and 90 days after surgery. Secondary outcome measures included discharge disposition, length of stay, and length of surgery. Coarsened exact matching was used to match patients on key demographics and baseline characteristics known to independently affect neurosurgical outcomes. -RESULTS: Among exact-matched patients (n [ 1402), there was no significant difference in adverse postsurgical events (readmission, emergency department visits, reoperation, or mortality) within 30 days or 90 days of the index operation between patients who had resident physicians and those who had NPSAs as first assistants. Patients who had resident physicians as first assistants demonstrated a longer length of stay (mean: 100.0 vs. 87.4 hours, P < 0.001) and a shorter duration of surgery (mean: 187.4 vs. 213.8 minutes, P < 0.001). There was no significant difference between the two groups in the percentage of patients discharged home. -CONCLUSIONS: For single-level posterior spinal fusion, in the setting described, there are no differences in short-term patient outcomes delivered by attending surgeons assisted by resident physicians versus NPSAs.

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World Neurosurgery




Elsevier Science, Inc.



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