Simple change to surgical procedure makes huge impact on post- lower back surgery patients

lumbar-painRecently, at the 2015 International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine (ISSLS) annual meeting in San Francisco, CA, Emory spine surgeon, S. Tim Yoon, MD, won the “Best Podium Presentation” award. It was one of two papers chosen among 600 papers submitted and 80 papers presented. Dr. Yoon was recognized for his research relating to lumbar spine surgery. A summary of the recognition and study findings is below:

Purpose of Study:

Dr. Yoon and Emory University School of Medicine student, J. Stewart Buck,  analyzed 17,232 patient outcomes cases to look at the effect of spinal fluid leakage on cost and length of stay post lumbar (lower back) spine surgery. They looked at first time spinal fusion surgery of the lumbar spine for the treatment ofspinal stenosis (nerve pinch).

Sometimes, during spinal surgery the covering around the spinal fluid (dura) becomes punctured and spinal fluid leakage can occur.  This is called incidental durotomy.  There has been incomplete understanding of what factors are associated with incidental durotomy and whether other complications and cost of hospitalization is affected.

Study Findings:

This study used a very large database that is representative of all hospitals in the United States in order to have enough numbers in the study to apply power statistical analysis.  The incidence of incidental durotomies was about 4.6% of spinal surgeries.  Interestingly, once statistical adjustments were made to account for multiple different factors, incidental durotomies were NOT associated with other complications except neurological complications. Complications from the durotomy caused the hospitalization length to increase by 1.4 days and hospital cost to increase by about $3800.

Drs. Yoon and Stewart speculated that utilizing a better, tighter method may allow for a patient to get back on their feet quicker, reducing the cost and length of hospitalization.

yoon-s-timAbout Dr. Yoon:

Dr. Yoon specializes in cervical and lumbar spine surgery using minimally invasive techniques. Dr. Yoon won the MIT robot and physics motor competitions while an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He attended medical school at Yale University where he earned an MD and a PhD in immunobiology. He is an award-winning researcher, focusing on spinal disorders of the neck, spinal stenosis, and spinal deformity.  Dr. Yoon attended elementary and high school in South Georgia.  He started practicing at Emory in 2000.

Related Resources: 
Spine Care at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center
Advancing the Possibilities in Orthopedic, Sports Medicine & Spine Care
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