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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2014 Apr 20;39(9):715-20. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000228.

Sentinel events in cervical spine surgery.

Author information

1
From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.

Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

Retrospective cohort.

OBJECTIVE:

A national population-based database was queried to investigate the incidence of sentinel events in cervical spine surgery as well as the associated perioperative outcomes.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:

Sentinel events in cervical spine surgery are potentially catastrophic complications. The incidence and perioperative outcomes associated with sentinel events in cervical spine surgery have not been well characterized.

METHODS:

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample was queried from 2002 to 2011. Patients who underwent elective cervical spinal surgery were identified. Sentinel events including esophageal perforation, vascular injury, nerve injury, retention of foreign objects, and wrong-site surgery were identified. Patient demographics, comorbidities (Charlson Comorbidity Index), surgical procedures, length of stay, total hospital costs, and postoperative outcomes were assessed. The risk for in-hospital mortality associated with each complication was calculated using a 95% confidence interval (CI). Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS version 20, and a P ≤ 0.001 denoted significance.

RESULTS:

A total of 251,318 cervical spine procedures were identified between 2002 and 2011, of which 123 patients (0.5 per 1000 cases) incurred sentinel events. Circumferential cervical fusion (anterior-posterior cervical fusion) demonstrated an increased risk of vascular injury (odds ratio [OR], 4.5; CI, 1.8-11.2), whereas cervical total disc replacement was associated with an increased risk of esophageal perforation (OR, 10.9; CI, 1.4-85.2) and nerve injury (OR, 36.4; CI, 1.5-892.3). Posterior cervical fusions were associated with an increased risk of wrong-site surgery (OR, 3.9; CI, 1.5-10.5). The sentinel event cohort incurred longer hospitalization, greater costs, mortality, and greater incidence of postoperative complications.

CONCLUSION:

This database analysis demonstrates that sentinel events are associated with a significant increase in hospital resource utilization and worsened perioperative outcomes. The type of cervical spine procedure and the number of fusion levels significantly impact the risk of sentinel events. Further research is warranted to understand the etiology of sentinel events in cervical spine surgery and to implement protocols to mitigate the associated risk factors.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

4.

PMID:
24480955
DOI:
10.1097/BRS.0000000000000228
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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