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This article is the author's final published version in Brain and Spine, Volume 4, 2024, Article number 102780.

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Copyright © 2024 Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of EUROSPINE, the Spine Society of Europe, EANS, the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies.


INTRODUCTION: As the population of elderly patients continues to rise, the number of these individuals presenting with thoracolumbar trauma is expected to increase.

RESEARCH QUESTION: To investigate thoracolumbar fusion outcomes for patients with vertebral fractures as stratified by decade. Secondarily, we examined the variability of cost across age groups by identifying drivers of cost of care.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We queried the United States Nationwide Inpatient Sample(NIS) for adult patients undergoing spinal fusion for thoracolumbar fractures between 2012 and 2017. Patients were stratified by decade 60-69(sexagenarians), 70-79(septuagenarians) and 80-89(octogenarians). Bivariable analysis followed by multivariable regression was performed to assess independent predictors of length of stay(LOS), hospital cost, and discharge disposition.

RESULTS: A total of 2767 patients were included, of which 46%(N = 1268) were sexagenarians, 36% septuagenarians and 18%(N = 502) octogenarians. Septuagenarians and octogenarians had shorter LOS compared to sexagenarians(ß = -0.88 days; p = 0.012) and(ß = -1.78; p < 0.001), respectively. LOS was reduced with posterior approach(-2.46 days[95% CI: 3.73-1.19]; p < 0.001), while Hispanic patients had longer LOS(+1.97 [95% CI: 0.81-3.13]; p < 0.001). Septuagenarians had lower total charges $12,185.70(p = 0.040), while the decrease in charges in octogenarians was more significant, with a decrease of $26,016.30(p < 0.001) as compared to sexagenarians. Posterior approach was associated with a decrease of $24,337.90 in total charges(p = 0.026). Septuagenarians and octogenarians had 1.72 higher odds(p < 0.001) and 4.16 higher odds(p < 0.001), respectively, of discharge to a skilled nursing facility.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Healthcare utilization in geriatric thoracolumbar trauma is complex. Cost reductions in the acute hospital setting may be offset by unaccounted costs after discharge. Further research into this phenomenon and observed racial/ethnic disparities must be pursued.

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