The prevalence of malnutrition in patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery ranges from 5% to 50% and is associated with higher rates of surgical site infections, medical complications, longer lengths of stay, and mortality.
To determine if perioperative nutritional intervention decreases wound healing complications in patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery.
A prospective randomized controlled trial.
Materials and Methods.
Patients aged 55+ undergoing elective primary lumbar surgery were included. Patients with a preoperative albumin<3.5 g/dL were defined as malnourished. Intervention group received nutritional supplementation (protein shake) twice daily from postoperative day 0 to two weeks postdischarge. Control group was instructed to continue regular daily diets. Primary outcomes included minor in-hospital complications (wound drainage, electrolyte abnormalities, hypotension, ileus, deep venous thrombus) and wound healing complications within 90 days. Secondary outcomes included 90-day emergency room visits, readmissions, and return to the operating room. Baseline data were compared between groups using means comparison tests. Multivariable analysis evaluated association of outcomes with nutritional supplementation. Subanalysis of malnourished patients assessed effects of nutritional supplementation on outcomes.
One hundred three patients were included. Thirty-seven (35.9%) were considered malnourished preoperatively. Forty-six (44.7%) received nutritional intervention and 57 (55.3%) served as controls. Adjusted analysis found patients receiving supplementation had lower rates of in-hospital minor complications (2.1% vs. 23.2%, P<0.01), and perioperative wound healing complications (3.4% vs. 17.9%, P<0.05). Subgroup analysis of 37 malnourished patients demonstrated that malnourished patients who received perioperative nutritional supplementation had lower rates of minor complications during admission (0.0% vs. 34.4%, P=0.01) and return to the operating room within 90 days (0.0% vs. 12.4%, P=0.04).
Over one third of patients undergoing lumbar surgery were malnourished. Nutritional supplementation during the two-week perioperative period decreased rates of minor complications during admission and wound complications within 90 days. Malnourished patients receiving supplementation less often returned to the operating room. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the effects of perioperative nutritional intervention on wound healing complications for patients undergoing elective lumbar spine surgery.
Level of Evidence.