Modified-frailty index does not independently predict complications, hospital length of stay or 30-day readmission rates following posterior lumbar decompression and fusion for spondylolisthesis

Aladine A. Elsamadicy, Isaac G. Freedman, Andrew B. Koo, Wyatt B. David, Benjamin C. Reeves, John Havlik, Zach Pennington, Luis Kolb, John H. Shin, Daniel M. Sciubba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Frailty has been associated with inferior surgical outcomes in various fields of spinal surgery. With increasing healthcare costs, hospital length of stay (LOS) and unplanned readmissions have emerged as clinical proxies reflecting overall value of care. However, there is a paucity of data assessing the impact that baseline frailty has on quality of care in patients with spondylolisthesis. PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to investigate the impact that frailty has on LOS, complication rate, and unplanned readmission after posterior lumbar spinal fusion for spondylolisthesis. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study was performed using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database from 2010 through 2016. PATIENT SAMPLE: All adult (≥18 years old) patients who underwent lumbar spinal decompression and fusion for spondylolisthesis were identified using ICD-9-CM diagnosis and procedural coding systems. We calculated the modified frailty index (mFI) for each patient using 5 dichotomous comorbidities - diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, hypertension requiring medication, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and dependent functional status. Each comorbidity is assigned 1 point and the points are summed to give a score between 0 and 5. As in previous literature, we defined a score of 0 as “not frail”, 1 as “mild” frailty, and 2 or greater as “moderate to severe” frailty. OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient demographics, comorbidities, complications, LOS, readmission, and reoperation were assessed. METHODS: A multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent predictors of adverse events (AEs), extended LOS, complications, and unplanned readmission. RESULTS: There were a total of 5,296 patients identified, of which 2,030 (38.3%) were mFI=0, 2,319 (43.8%) patients mFI=1, and 947 (17.9%) were mFI ≥2. The mFI≥2 cohort was older (p≤.001) and had a greater average BMI (p≤.001). The mFI≥2 cohort had a slightly longer hospital stay (3.7 ± 2.3 days vs. mFI=1: 3.5 ± 2.8 days and mFI=0: 3.2 ± 2.1 days, p≤.001). Both surgical AEs and medical AEs were significantly greater in the mFI≥2 cohort than the other cohorts, (2.6% vs. mFI=1: 1.8% and mFI=0: 1.2%, p=.022) and (6.3% vs. mFI=1: 4.8% and mFI=0: 2.6%, p≤.001), respectively. While there was no significant difference in reoperation rates, the mFI≥2 cohort had greater unplanned 30-day readmission rates (8;4% vs. mFI=5.6: 4.8% and mFI=0: 3.4%, p≤.001). However, on multivariate regression analysis, mFI≥2 was not a significant independent predictor of LOS (p=.285), complications (p=.667), or 30-day unplanned readmission (p=.378). CONCLUSIONS: Our study indicates that frailty, as measured by the mFI, does not significantly predict LOS, 30-day adverse events, or 30-day unplanned readmission in patients undergoing lumbar spinal decompression and fusion for spondylolisthesis. Further work is needed to better define variable inputs that make up frailty to optimize surgical outcome prediction tools that impact the value of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1812-1821
Number of pages10
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • 30-Day readmission rate
  • Complications
  • Hospital Length of Stay
  • Modified frailty index
  • Posterior lumbar decompression and fusion
  • Spondylolisthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Modified-frailty index does not independently predict complications, hospital length of stay or 30-day readmission rates following posterior lumbar decompression and fusion for spondylolisthesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this