Nancy E. Epstein, Marc A. Agulnick

Anterior cervical surgery for morbidly obese patients should be performed in-hospitals

  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Surgery

Background: Morbid obesity (MO) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Class II (i.e. Body Mass Index (BMI) >/= 35 kg/M2 + 2 comorbidities) or Class III (i.e. BMI >/= 40 kg/M2). Here, we reviewed the rates for adverse event/s (AE)/morbidity/mortality for MO patients undergoing anterior cervical surgery as inpatients/in-hospitals, and asked whether this should be considered the standard of care? Methods: We reviewed multiple studies to document the AE/morbidity/mortality rates for performing anterior cervical surgery (i.e., largely ACDF) for MO patients as inpatients/in-hospitals. Results: MO patients undergoing anterior cervical surgery may develop perioperative/postoperative AE, including postoperative epidural hematomas (PEH), that can lead to acute/delayed cardiorespiratory arrests. MO patients in-hospitals have 24/7 availability of anesthesiologists (i.e. to intubate/run codes) and surgeons (i.e. to evacuate anterior acute hematomas) who can best handle typically witnessed cardiorespiratory arrests. Alternatively, after average 4-7.5 hr. postoperative care unit (PACU) observation, Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) patients are sent to unmonitored floors for the remainder of their 23-hour stays, while those in Outpatient SurgiCenters (OSC) are discharged home. Either for ASC or OSC patients, cardiorespiratory arrests are usually unwitnessed, and, therefore, are more likely to lead to greater morbidity/mortality. Conclusion: Anterior cervical surgery for MO patients is best/most safely performed as inpatients/in-hospitals where significant postoperative AE, including cardiorespiratory arrests, are most likely to be witnessed events, and appropriately emergently treated with better outcomes. Alternatively, MO patients undergoing anterior cervical procedures in ASC/OSC will more probably have unwitnessed AE/cardiorespiratory arrests, resulting in poorer outcomes with higher mortality rates. Given these findings, isn't it safest for MO patients to undergo anterior cervical surgery as inpatients/in-hospitals, and shouldn't this be considered the standard of care?

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