Spine Surgery and Preoperative Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Hemoglobin A1c: A Systematic Review

Krishna V. Suresh, Kevin Wang, Ishaan Sethi, Bo Zhang, Adam Margalit, Varun Puvanesarajah, Amit Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Study Design: Systematic review. Objectives: Synthesize previous studies evaluating clinical utility of preoperative Hb/Hct and HbA1c in patients undergoing common spinal procedures: anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), posterior cervical fusion (PCF), posterior lumbar fusion (PLF), and lumbar decompression (LD). Methods: We queried PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science for literature on preoperative Hb/Hct and HbA1c and post-operative outcomes in adult patients undergoing ACDF, PCF, PLF, or LD surgeries. Results: Total of 4,307 publications were assessed. Twenty-one articles met inclusion criteria. PCF and ACDF: Decreased preoperative Hb/Hct were significant predictors of increased postoperative morbidity, including return to operating room, pulmonary complications, transfusions, and increased length of stay (LOS). For increased HbA1c, there was significant increase in risk of postoperative infection and cost of hospital stay. PLF: Decreased Hb/Hct was reported to be associated with increased risk of postoperative cardiac events, blood transfusion, and increased LOS. Elevated HbA1c was associated with increased risk of infection as well as higher visual analogue scores (VAS) and Oswestry disability index (ODI) scores. LD: LOS and total episode of care cost were increased in patients with preoperative HbA1c elevation. Conclusion: In adult patients undergoing spine surgery, preoperative Hb/Hct are clinically useful predictors for postoperative complications, transfusion rates, and LOS, and HbA1c is predictive for postoperative infection and functional outcomes. Using Hct values <35-38% and HbA1c >6.5%-6.9% for identifying patients at higher risk of postoperative complications is most supported by the literature. We recommend obtaining these labs as part of routine pre-operative risk stratification. Level of Evidence: III

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-165
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • hematocrit
  • hemoglobin
  • hemoglobin A1c
  • spine surgery post-operative complications
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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