Perioperative characteristics and complications in obese patients undergoing anterior cervical fusion surgery.
In the USA, obesity rates have significantly increased in the last 15 years. Mirroring this trend, a large proportion of patients undergoing spinal surgery are obese. Concern exists for increased complications due to surgical challenges posed by obese patients and their often-prevalent comorbidities. Studies have shown associations between body mass index (BMI) and perioperative complications in lumbar and thoracolumbar fusion surgeries; however, few studies have evaluated the impact of obesity on anterior cervical fusion surgery. As such, this study aimed to evaluate complications and perioperative characteristics in obese patients undergoing anterior cervical fusion. We queried medical records to identify patients with BMI >30 who underwent anterior cervical fusion surgery. A total of 69 patients were included and subdivided based on obesity class: Class 1 (BMI 30-35), Class 2 (BMI 35-40), and Class 3 (BMI >40). Subgroup analysis included comorbidities, diagnosis, procedure, levels treated, and length of hospital stay. Overall mean BMI was 35.1, mean age was 54.3 years, and 43 (63.3%) were men. Disc herniation was the most common diagnosis. Length of stay differed significantly among obesity subgroups (p=0.02). Mean length of stay was 2.8, 3.5, and 4.0 days for Classes 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Three (4.3%) complications were observed, comprising of urinary tract infection, wound dehiscence, and neck hematoma. Complication rates by class were 5.5%, 0%, and 16.6% for Classes 1, 2, and 3, respectively (p=0.17). We found that obese patients undergoing anterior cervical spine surgery experience relatively few complications. Hospital stay, however, appears to lengthen with increased BMI.