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General Spine News

Is Age a Factor in Spinal Fusion?

People are living longer, which means more aches and pains as we get older. Older adults have just as many back problems as anyone else. Spinal fusion is a common way to treat chronic low back pain. Are adults over 65 years of age more likely to have problems after this operation? In this report, researchers say age alone is no reason to withhold spinal fusion from patients who need it.

They compared two groups of spinal fusion patients by age (younger than 65 and 65 and older). Patients were matched in each group by number of operations, type of fusion, and number of levels fused.

The same surgeon treated all patients. A posterior approach (from the back of the body) was used for everyone. All patients had a spinal fusion for a degenerative condition. Everyone was followed for at least one month after the operation.

Measures included operative time, amount of blood lost, and number of days in the hospital. Number of minutes under anesthesia was defined as the operative time. Any problems during or after surgery were recorded and compared.

The authors found that even though the older group had more health problems, they had just as good results as younger patients. Older patients had longer hospital stays but no more blood loss during the operation. Complications after surgery were the same between the two groups.

The results of this study suggest withholding lumbar spine fusion on the basis of age isn't needed.


Cumhur Kilinçer, MD, et al. Effects of Age on the Perioperative Characteristics and Short-Term Outcome of Posterior Lumbar Fusion Surgery. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. July 2005. Vol. 3. No. 1. Pp. 34-39.

09/12/2005

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