Implementation of an enhanced recovery pathway in Australia after posterior spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis delivers improved outcomes



Traditionally, spinal surgery for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) has seen long hospital length of stay (LOS) and slow mobility progression. Postoperative enhanced recovery pathways (ERP) for this population in North America and Asia have successfully reduced LOS and hospital costs without increasing complications. This study assessed if ERP introduced in an Australian center achieves similar results.


A pre–post intervention study compared a historical AIS cohort having a posterior spinal fusion (PSF) who received conventional care (CC) (2013–2014) with prospectively assessed ERP recipients (2016–2018) separated by 1-year implementation period. Patient characteristics, surgical details, postoperative analgesia, mobilization, LOS and complication outcomes were collected.


The 32 CC and 61 ERP recipients had similar demographics. ERP recipients had 44% decreased LOS (mean LOS 3.5 ± 0.9 days vs. CC 6.3 ± 0.9 days, p < 0.001) as all ERP milestones were achieved sooner including transition to oral analgesia (MD − 2 days, 95% CI 1.8–2.3), oral intake (MD − 2.3 days, 95% CI 2.0–2.6) and mobilization, with fewer physiotherapy sessions (5.2 vs 8, p < 0.001). Postoperative in-hospital costs were 50.2% less for ERP vs CC (AUD $8234 vs $16,545). Due to small sample size, no differences between the groups were detectable for complications (4.9% vs 6.3%) or readmission (1.6% vs 3.1%).


An ERP for AIS after PSF in this Australian center improved functional recovery reducing LOS and by associated postoperative inpatient costs. Other Australian hospitals should consider an ERP for this population with larger-scale audit to assess impact upon complications.

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Availability of data and material

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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We thank those involved with formulating the enhanced recovery pathway at our institution including the orthopedic surgeons, surgical ward, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy Departments.


No funds, grants, or other support was received.

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SET, GMP, SPP, DMP, MBJ: (1) made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; or the creation of new software used in the work; (2) drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content; (3) approved the version to be published; (4) agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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Correspondence to Sarah E. Temby.

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This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was granted by the Human Research Ethics Committee of The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne (Ethics approval number: HREC 36015).

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Temby, S.E., Palmer, G.M., Penrose, S.P. et al. Implementation of an enhanced recovery pathway in Australia after posterior spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis delivers improved outcomes. Spine Deform (2021).

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  • Scoliosis
  • Posterior spinal fusion
  • Accelerated discharge
  • Hospital stay
  • Financial impact
  • Postoperative