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Obesity May Increase Complications in Spine Surgery

One third of patients with body mass index over 40 at risk

WEDNESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Patients undergoing elective fusion for degenerative spinal conditions are often obese, and those who are have a higher risk for perioperative complications, according to a study in the April issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

Nimesh Patel, M.D., of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 86 elective thoracic and lumbar spine surgery cases and looked at the incidence of complications in relation to a number of variables including body mass index, height, weight, age, sex and absence or presence of diabetes mellitus.

The study cohort had a mean body mass index of 28.8, and 60 patients (71.4 percent) were overweight or obese. There were 31 patients (36.9 percent) who experienced 42 complications among them, and 17 patients (20.2 percent) experienced significant complications.

Patients with a body mass index of 25 had a 14 percent chance of significant complications, but those with a body mass index of 30 had a 20 percent chance of significant complications, rising to 36 percent for patients with a body mass index of 40. Increased risk of minor complications was related to advancing age but not BMI.

"Our results suggest that the presence of obesity should be considered in the perioperative risk assessment for elective spine surgery," the authors concluded.

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