Obesity May Not Complicate Spine Surgery

Does not appear to increase complications in elective degenerative thoracolumbar procedures

MONDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Though some studies have suggested higher body mass index (BMI) increases risk for complications after spine surgery, a new study published in the July issue of The Spine Journal did not find any such correlation.

Sanjay Yadla, M.D., of the Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational study of 87 patients -- 40.8 percent of whom were obese and 11.5 percent morbidly obese -- undergoing elective surgery for degenerative thoracolumbar pathologies to look for a correlation between BMI and perioperative complications.

The researchers found an overall complication rate of 67 percent. Fifty percent of the patients experienced minor complications, and 17.8 percent had major complications. Risk of complication correlated with age, hypertension, and fusion surgery, but not with BMI. There were no positioning palsies in the cohort.

"This prospective assessment of perioperative complications in elective degenerative thoracolumbar procedures shows no relationship between patient BMI and the incidence of perioperative minor or major complications. Specific care in perioperative positioning may limit the risk of perioperative positioning palsies in obese patients," the authors write.

Four authors disclosed professional relationships with and financial support from medical technology companies.

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Monica Smith

Monica Smith

Published on June 28, 2010

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