To understand differences in 30-day outcomes between patients undergoing posterior cervical fusion (PCF) for fracture versus degenerative cervical spine disease.
Summary of Background Data:
Current bundled payment models for cervical fusions, such as the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement revolve around the use of diagnosis-related groups to categorize patients for reimbursement purposes. Though a PCF performed for a fracture may have a different postoperative course of care as compared with a fusion being done for degenerative cervical spine pathology, the current DRG system does not differentiate payments based on the indication/cause of surgery.
The 2012-2017 American College of Surgeons–National Surgical Quality Improvement Program was queried using Current Procedural Terminology code 22600 to identify patients receiving elective PCFs. Multivariate analyses were used to compare rates of 30-day severe adverse events, minor adverse events, readmissions, length of stay, and nonhome discharges between the 2 groups.
A total 2546 (91.4%) PCFs were performed for degenerative cervical spine pathology and 240 (8.6%) for fracture. After adjustment for differences in baseline clinical characteristics, patients undergoing a PCF for a fracture versus degenerative pathology had higher odds of severe adverse events [18.8% vs. 10.6%, odds ratio (OR): 1.65 (95% CI, 1.10–2.46); P=0.015], prolonged length of stay >3 days [54.2% vs. 40.5%, OR: 1.93 (95% CI, 1.44–2.59); P<0.001], and nonhome discharges [34.2% vs. 27.6%, OR: 1.54 (95% CI, 1.10–2.17); P=0.012].
Patients undergoing PCFs for fracture have significant higher rates of postoperative adverse events and greater resource utilization as compared with individuals undergoing elective PCF for degenerative spine pathology. The study calls into question the need of risk adjustment of bundled prices based on indication/cause of the surgery to prevent the creation of a financial disincentive when taking care/performing surgery in spinal trauma patients.