Impact of Age, Injury Severity Score, and Medical Comorbidities on Early Complications After Fusion and Halo-Vest Immobilization for C2 Fractures in Older Adults A Propensity Score Matched Retrospective Cohort Study
Propensity score matched retrospective cohort study. To report early complication rates and associated risk factors in patients with C2 fractures who underwent fusion or halo immobilization. There is limited data on the impact of age, injury severity score, and medical comorbidities on overall complication rates from surgical fixation versus halo-vest immobilization of C2 fractures. The Nationwide Inpatient Sample database from 2002 to 2008 was queried to identify cohorts of adult patients (age ≥ 18 years) with C2 fractures without spinal cord injury who were treated with either fusion or halo-vest immobilization. Complication rates, hospital length of stay, and costs were compared in a propensity score matched sample. Multivariate analysis was used to identify predictors of in-hospital complications. A total of 3758 patients (1627 fusion and 2131 halo) were identified. Fusion was associated with greater overall complication rates (20.2% vs. 10.1%, P < 0.0001), increased length of stay (8.9 d vs. 6.4 d, P < 0.0001), higher charges ($80,000 vs. $41,000, P < 0.0001), but a lower rate of nonroutine discharge (52.6% vs. 62.6%, P < 0.0001). There was no difference in mortality between the fusion group (2.75%) and the halo group (3.33%). Age, injury score, and comorbidity increased complication rates by a similar degree (odds ratio) in both cohorts. Patients aged 80 years and older were 3.5 times more likely to have a complication than those younger than 60 years. Fusion patients had greater overall complication rates, increased length of stay, and greater resource utilization but were discharged home in a greater proportion. Both fusion and halo were associated with significant (more than 3-fold) increase in complication rates in elderly patients aged 80 years or older. Given the similar mortality rate between the fusion group and the halo group and the higher cost and complication rate in the fusion group, our study supports the use of halo-vest immobilization in patients where operative therapy is contraindicated.