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The impact of surgeon volume on patient outcome in spine surgery: a systematic review

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Recently, strategies aimed at optimizing provider factors have been proposed, including regionalization of surgeries to higher volume centers and adoption of volume standards. With limited literature promoting the regionalization of spine surgeries, we undertook a systematic review to investigate the impact of surgeon volume on outcomes in patients undergoing spine surgery.


We performed a systematic review examining the association between surgeon volume and spine surgery outcomes. To be included in the review, the study population had to include patients undergoing a primary or revision spinal procedure. These included anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), anterior/posterior cervical fusion, laminectomy/decompression, anterior/posterior lumbar decompression with fusion, discectomy, and spinal deformity surgery (spine arthrodesis).


Studies were variable in defining surgeon volume thresholds. Higher surgeon volume was associated with a significantly lower risk of postoperative complications, a lower length of stay (LOS), lower cost of hospital stay and a lower risk of readmissions and reoperations/revisions.


Findings suggest a trend towards better outcomes for higher volume surgeons; however, further study needs to be carried out to define objective volume thresholds for individual spine surgeries for surgeons to use as a marker of proficiency.

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Correspondence to Azeem Tariq Malik.

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Malik, A.T., Panni, U.Y., Mirza, M.U. et al. The impact of surgeon volume on patient outcome in spine surgery: a systematic review. Eur Spine J 27, 530–542 (2018).

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