To study the impact of smoking status on postoperative complications and pseudarthrosis in adult patients undergoing posterolateral fusion (PLF) of the lumbar spine.
Summary of Background Data.
Results of studies analyzing the impact of smoking on complication and pseudarthrosis rates after spine surgery are conflicting.
A retrospective medical record review was performed to identify all adult patients who underwent single- and 2-level instrumented PLF without interbody devices for degenerative spine disease in a 21-year period at a single institution. Patients were divided into smokers and nonsmokers. The main outcome variables were development of at least one postoperative complication and development of pseudarthrosis.
A total of 281 patients underwent single- or 2-level PLF in the 21-year period. Of these, 231 (82.21%) patients were nonsmokers and 50 (17.9%) were smokers. For patients undergoing single-level PLF, complication rates in nonsmokers (3.57%) versus smokers (7.69%) were not significantly different (P = 0.353); pseudarthrosis in nonsmokers occurred in 9.82% of cases compared with 7.69% in the smokers group (P = 0.738). Nonsmokers undergoing 2-level PLF had complication rates of 6.72%, compared with 4.17% in smokers (P = 0.638), but pseudarthrosis rates were significantly higher in the smokers group than in the nonsmokers group (29.17% vs. 10.92%; P = 0.019). Patients were followed up for an average of 53.5 months.
The findings in this study suggest that smoking has a significant impact on pseudarthrosis rates after 2-level PLF of the lumbar spine, but not necessarily on single-level PLF.
Level of Evidence: 4