Standardizing care for high-risk patients in spine surgery: The Northwestern high-risk spine protocol

Ryan J. Halpin, Patrick A Sugrue, Robert W. Gould, Peter G Kallas, Michael F Schafer, Stephen L. Ondra, Tyler Robert Koski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN.: Review article of current literature on the preoperative evaluation and postoperative management of patients undergoing high-risk spine operations and a presentation of a multidisciplinary protocol for patients undergoing high-risk spine operation. OBJECTIVE.: To provide evidence-based outline of modifiable risk factors and give an example of a multidisciplinary protocol with the goal of improving outcomes. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: Protocol-based care has been shown to improve outcomes in many areas of medicine. A protocol to evaluate patients undergoing high-risk procedures may ultimately improve patient outcomes. METHODS.: The English language literature to date was reviewed on modifiable risk factors for spine surgery. A multidisciplinary team including hospitalists, critical care physicians, anesthesiologists, and spine surgeons from neurosurgery and orthopedics established an institutional protocol to provide comprehensive care in the pre-, peri-, and postoperative periods for patients undergoing high-risk spine operations. RESULTS.: An example of a comprehensive pre-, peri-, and postoperative high-risk spine protocol is provided, with focus on the preoperative assessment of patients undergoing high-risk spine operations and modifiable risk factors. CONCLUSION.: Standardizing preoperative risk assessment may lead to better outcomes after major spine operations. A high-risk spine protocol may help patients by having dedicated physicians in multiple specialties focusing on all aspects of a patients care in the pre-, intra-, and postoperative phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2232-2238
Number of pages7
Issue number25
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • risk stratification
  • spinal deformity
  • spine protocol
  • spine surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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