Are We Focused on the Wrong Early Postoperative Quality Metrics? Optimal Realignment Outweighs Perioperative Risk in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery.



While reimbursement is centered on 90-day outcomes, many patients may still achieve optimal, long-term outcomes following adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery despite transient short-term complications.


Compare long-term clinical success and cost-utility between patients achieving optimal realignment and suboptimally aligned peers.

Study design/setting

Retrospective cohort study of a prospectively collected multicenter database.


ASD patients with two-year (2Y) data included. Groups were propensity score matched (PSM) for age, frailty, body mass index (BMI), Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), and baseline deformity. Optimal radiographic criteria are defined as meeting low deformity in all three (Scoliosis Research Society) SRS-Schwab parameters or being proportioned in Global Alignment and Proportionality (GAP). Cost-per-QALY was calculated for each time point. Multivariable logistic regression analysis and ANCOVA (analysis of covariance) adjusting for baseline disability and deformity (pelvic incidence (PI), pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis (PI-LL)) were used to determine the significance of surgical details, complications, clinical outcomes, and cost-utility.


A total of 930 patients were considered. Following PSM, 253 "optimal" (O) and 253 "not optimal" (NO) patients were assessed. The O group underwent more invasive procedures and had more levels fused. Analysis of complications by two years showed that the O group suffered less overall major (38% vs. 52%, p = 0.021) and major mechanical complications (12% vs. 22%, p = 0.002), and less reoperations (23% vs. 33%, p = 0.008). Adjusted analysis revealed O patients more often met MCID (minimal clinically important difference) in SF-36 PCS, SRS-22 Pain, and Appearance. Cost-utility-adjusted analysis determined that the O group generated better cost-utility by one year and maintained lower overall cost and costs per QALY (both p < 0.001) at two years.


Fewer late complications (mechanical and reoperations) are seen in optimally aligned patients, leading to better long-term cost-utility overall. Therefore, the current focus on avoiding short-term complications may be counterproductive, as achieving optimal surgical correction is critical for long-term success.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Passias, Peter G, Tyler K Williamson, Jamshaid M Mir, Justin S Smith, Virginie Lafage, Renaud Lafage, Breton Line, Alan H Daniels, et al. (2023). Are We Focused on the Wrong Early Postoperative Quality Metrics? Optimal Realignment Outweighs Perioperative Risk in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. Journal of clinical medicine, 12(17). p. 5565. 10.3390/jcm12175565 Retrieved from

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Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.

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