Nutritional Status as an Adjunct Risk Factor for Early Postoperative Complications Following Posterior Cervical Fusion

Nathan J. Lee, Parth Kothari, Jun S. Kim, Kevin Phan, John Di Capua, John Shin, Samuel K. Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Study Design. Retrospective study on prospectively collected data. Objective. The aim of this study was to study the impact of nutritional status, as measured by serum albumin level, on patient outcomes following posterior cervical fusion (PCF) surgery. Summary of Background Data. Malnutrition is a potential modifiable risk factor that has garnered an increasing amount of attention within orthopedics in recent years. There is evidence to suggest the role of nutritional status in lumbar and ACDF surgery, yet the data for PCF are still lacking. Methods. The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) was queried by current procedure terminology (CPT) from 2010 to 2014. Bivariate analyses were performed to compare the preoperative characteristics between those with normal albumin and hypoalbuminemia. Postoperative complications and outcomes were similarly analyzed for those with and without low albumin levels. Stepwise multivariate logistic regression models were employed to determine whether hypoalbuminemia was an independent risk factor for short-term patient outcomes and complications. Results. There were 1573 cases with measured albumin levels (42.4%). The mean (standard deviation) serum albumin level was 3.9 (0.6). Among these patients, 265 (16.8%) cases had hypoalbuminemia. The adjusted analyses demonstrated that patients with hypoalbuminemia had a significantly higher risk for length of stay >5 days (odds ratio [OR]=3.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.8-5.1; P<0.0001). In addition, hypoalbuminemia was an independent risk factor for any complications (OR=2.7; 95% CI=1.9-3.7; P<0.0001), pulmonary complications (OR=2.3; 95% CI=1.2-4.5; P=0.010), intra/postoperative blood transfusions (OR=3.2; 95% CI=2.1-4.9; P<0.0001), sepsis (OR=4.0; 95% CI=1.7-9.2; P=0.001), and venous thromboemoblism (OR=3.6; 95% CI=1.5-8.5; P=0.004). Conclusion. These findings implicate that a baseline serum albumin <3.5g/dL may serve as a valuable prognostic measure for the development of several complications following PCF surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1374
Number of pages8
Issue number18
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2017


  • albumin
  • hypoalbuminemia
  • malnutrition
  • nutritional status
  • posterior cervical fusion
  • posterior laminectomy and fusion
  • postoperative complications
  • spinal fusion


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