Impact of medical student involvement on outcomes following spine surgery: A single center analysis of 6485 patients

Zachary A. Abecassis, Benjamin Hopkins, Phyo Win, Ketan Yerneni, Constantine L. Karras, Hyman G. Frankel, Amit Ayer, Nader S. Dahdaleh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medical student (MS) observation and assistance in the operating room (OR) is a critical component of medical education. Though participation in the operating room has many benefits to the medical student, the potential cost of these experiences to the patients must be taken into account. Other studies have shown differences in outcomes with resident involvement, but the effect of medical students in the OR has been poorly understood. The objective of this study was to understand how medical students and residents impacted surgical outcomes in posterior spinal fusions, anterior cervical discectomy and fusions (ACDFs), and lumbar discectomies. We conducted a retrospective study of patients undergoing posterior spinal fusions, ACDFs, and lumbar discectomies over 15 years. There were 6485 patients met the inclusion criteria of either undergoing a posterior fusion, ACDF or lumbar discectomy (1250 posterior fusion, 1381 ACDF, 3854 lumbar discectomies). Overall, little difference was observed when a medical student was present for surgical outcomes including length of stay, infection, and readmission. For ACDFs, having a medical student present had a significantly longer procedure durations (OR = 1.612, p = 0.001) than cases without. Besides slightly longer operative time (in posterior fusions), there were no major differences in outcomes when a medical student was present in the OR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-148
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Medical students
  • Outcomes
  • Spine surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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