Comparison of patient and surgeon perceptions of adverse events after adult spinal deformity surgery.


Study design

Survey based on complication scenarios.


To assess and compare perceived potential impacts of various perioperative adverse events by both surgeons and patients.

Summary of background data

Incidence of adverse events after adult spinal deformity surgery remains substantial. Patient-centered outcomes tools measuring the impact of these events have not been developed. An important first step is to assess the perceptions of surgeons and patients regarding the impact of these events on surgical outcome and quality of life.


Descriptions of 22 potential adverse events of surgery (heart attack, stroke, spinal cord injury, nerve root injury, cauda equina injury, blindness, dural tear, blood transfusion, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, superficial infection, deep infection, lung failure, urinary tract infection, nonunion, adjacent segment disease, persistent deformity, implant failure, death, renal failure, gastrointestinal complications, and sexual dysfunction) were presented to 14 spinal surgeons and 16 adult patients with spinal deformity. Impact scores were assigned to each complication on the basis of perceptions of overall severity, satisfaction with surgery, and effect on quality of life. Impact scores were compared between surgeons and patients with a Wilcoxon/Kruskal-Wallis test.


Mean impact scores varied from 0.9 (blood transfusion) to 10.0 (death) among surgeons and 2.3 (urinary tract infection) to 9.2 (stroke) among patients. Patients' scores were consistently higher (P < 0.05) than surgeons in all 3 categories for 6 potential adverse events: stroke, lung failure, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, dural tear, and blood transfusion. Three additional complications (renal failure, non-union, and deep vein thrombosis) were rated higher in 1 or 2 categories by patients.


There was substantial variation in how both surgeons and patients perceived impacts of various adverse events after spine surgery. Patients generally perceived the impact of adverse events to be greater than surgeons. Patient-centered descriptions of adverse events would provide a more complete description of surgical outcomes.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Hart, Robert A, Adam Cabalo, Shay Bess, Behrooz A Akbarnia, Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, Douglas Burton, Matthew E Cunningham, Munish Gupta, et al. (2013). Comparison of patient and surgeon perceptions of adverse events after adult spinal deformity surgery. Spine, 38(9). pp. 732–736. 10.1097/brs.0b013e31827ae242 Retrieved from

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