The incidence and mortality of thromboembolic events in cervical spine surgery

Matthew Oglesby, Steven J. Fineberg, Alpesh A. Patel, Miguel A. Pelton, Kern Singh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Study Design: Retrospective database analysis. Objective: A nationwide population-based database was analyzed to identify the incidence, risk factors, and mortalities associated with venous thromboembolism (VTE) after cervical spine surgery. Summary of Background Data: Pulmonary embolism (PE) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are potential complications that may occur after orthopedic procedures. Incidences of these complications are not well characterized after cervical spine surgery. Methods: Data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database were obtained from 2002 to 2009. Patients undergoing anterior cervical fusion, posterior cervical fusion, and posterior cervical decompression (i.e., laminoforaminotomy, laminectomy, laminoplasty) for the diagnosis of cervical myelopathy and/or radiculopathy were identifi ed. Incidences of PE and DVT were calculated. Comorbidities were calculated using the modifi ed Charlson Comorbidity Index. Mortality associated with these complications was assessed in the 3 surgical subgroups. Statistical analysis was performed to assess signifi cant differences between groups. Logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of VTE. A P value of < 0.0005 was used to denote signifi cance. Results: There were 273,396 cervical procedures recorded in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database from 2002 to 2009. Posterior cervical fusion-treated patients had statistically the highest incidences of DVT and PE, whereas the lowest PE and DVT rates were found in anterior cervical fusion-treated patients (P < 0.0005). All patients with thromboembolic events had signifi cantly increased rates of mortality, hospitalization, and costs compared with patients without VTE across all procedural groups. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated statistically signifi cant predictors of VTE to be male sex, pulmonary circulation disorders, fl uid/electrolyte disorders, and teaching-hospital status. Conclusion Thromboembolic events are potential complications of cervical spine surgery. The highest rates of VTE were identifi ed in those patients undergoing posterior cervical fusion. Regardless of approach, DVT and PEs resulted in increased mortality rates and hospitalization. We recommend a thorough preoperative assessment to identify patients at risk for VTE and treat accordingly to decrease the incidence of these thromboembolic events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E521-E527
Issue number9
StatePublished - Apr 20 2013


  • Anterior cervical
  • Complications
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Fusion
  • Posterior cervical decompression
  • Posterior cervical fusion
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Risk factors
  • Surgery
  • Venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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