Seasonal Effects on Postoperative Complications After Spinal Surgery: A National Database Analysis

Philip Henson, William H. Shuman, Adam Y. Li, Muhammad Ali, Roshini Kalagara, Eugene Hrabarchuk, Alex J. Schupper, Jeremy Steinberger, Jonathan S. Gal, Tanvir F. Choudhri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate the role of seasonality on postoperative complications after spinal surgery. Methods: Data were obtained from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database from 2011 to 2018. Current Procedural Terminology codes were used to identify the following procedures: posterior cervical decompression and fusion, cervical laminoplasty, posterior lumbar fusion, lumbar laminectomy, and spinal deformity surgery. The database was queried for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, sepsis, septic shock, Clostridium difficile infection, stroke, cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, urinary tract infection (UTI), and early unplanned hospital readmission (readmission). Warm season was defined as April–September, whereas cold season was defined as October–March. Statistical analysis included computing overall complication rates and comparison between seasons using univariate analysis and multivariable logistic regression. Results: A total of 208,291 individuals underwent spinal surgery from 2011 to 2018. There was a statistically significant increase in UTI (odds ratio [OR], 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07–1.26; P = 0.0002) and readmission (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.02–1.11, P = 0.007) in the warm season compared with the cold season. An investigation into the July effect showed increases in DVT (OR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.03–1.48; P = 0.020) and thromboembolic events (OR 1.17; 95% CI, 1.01–1.35; P = 0.032) in July–September compared with the preceding 3 months. Conclusions: The results showed a higher incidence of UTI and readmission among spine surgery patients in the warm season and a higher incidence of DVT and thromboembolic events from July to September. In both cases, the effect of seasonality is statistically significant, but the absolute difference is small and may not suggest policy changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e455-e466
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Complication
  • July effect
  • National database
  • Neurosurgery
  • Postoperative
  • Seasonality


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