STUDY DESIGN: This is a retrospective observational study. OBJECTIVE: This study evaluates the impact of postoperative fever on the rate of readmission among lumbar fusion patients. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Postoperative fever is a common event across surgical specialties that often triggers an extensive work-up that can significantly increase hospital costs and length of stay, although the results are usually negative for infection. There is a paucity of literature studying postoperative fever in lumbar fusion patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective chart review of all the patients who underwent elective posterior lumbar spinal fusion from January, 2018 to November, 2018 was conducted. Fever was defined as a temperature >100.4ºF. Patients were categorized into 4 groups based on their highest recorded temperature postoperatively. The association between demographic variables, tests ordered per patient, length of stay, and readmission rates per group were analyzed using a t test, and 1-way analysis of variance for continuous outcomes, and the Fisher exact test for categorical variables. RESULTS: Of 107 patients, 58% had no fever recorded, 17.75% had temperatures between 100.5 and 100.90ºF, 18.69% temperatures between 101 and 101.90ºF, and 4.67% of patients temperatures equal or higher than 102.0ºF. The number of tests per patient increase with the range of temperatures analyzed (P<0.01), but the rate of readmission of all the 4 groups are not significantly different (0.107). There is no significant difference in the number of febrile episodes per day between patients who were and who were not readmitted (0.209). CONCLUSIONS: A diagnostic testing policy guided by clinician assessment of symptoms and physical exam may limit unnecessary testing and reduce hospital length of stay and cost without sacrificing patient safety.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Clinical Neurology