Factors affecting length of stay after posterior spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Spine Deformity








Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; Length of stay; Posterior spinal fusion; Quality improvement; Standardized care pathway


© 2020, Scoliosis Research Society. Study design: Retrospective review of prospectively collected data. Objective: Determine factors that influence hospital length of stay after posterior spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Summary of background data: Standardized care pathways decrease variability in care, improve patient outcomes, and decrease cost. Specifically, global care pathway development using Lean process mapping for patients undergoing posterior spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) has been shown to lead to a significant decrease in postoperative length of stay. Assessment of variables that affect length of stay after pathway implementation may identify opportunities for additional process refinement to further decrease postoperative length of stay and improve pathway efficiency. Methods: A standardized care pathway was implemented at our institution for all patients undergoing posterior spinal fusion for AIS. This pathway was developed using the Lean process mapping technique to create evidence-based protocols for the preoperative, operative, postoperative, and postdischarge care. Patient and care-related variables in these time periods were assessed to determine those factors that significantly affected postoperative length of stay. Results: Preoperative factors associated with a prolonged postoperative length of stay included patient ethnicity (non-Hispanic > Hispanic, p = 0.035) and gender (female > male, p = 0.039). Significant intraoperative factors included longer surgical time (p < 0.001), increased number of fusion levels (p = 0.034), and higher volume of crystalloid administered (p = 0.011). Significant postoperative factors were higher average pain scores on the first postoperative day (p < 0.001) and higher cumulative morphine use (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Use of a standardized care pathway for the treatment of patients with AIS can decrease postoperative length of stay. Despite a carefully designed pathway, variability persists in aspects of care that can impact length of stay, including surgical efficiency, intraoperative fluid and blood management, and postoperative pain management. Continued process improvement focused on these variables will likely further improve the effectiveness of standardized pathways for patients with AIS. Level of evidence: Level III.

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