Complications associated with instrumented lumbar surgery in patients with liver cirrhosis: A matched cohort analysis

Jen Chung Liao*, Wen Jer Chen, Lih Hui Chen, Chi Chien Niu, Tsai Shen Fu, Po Liang Lai, Tsung Ting Tsai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: There is no information in the English literature on the outcome of liver cirrhotic patients who have undergone instrumented lumbar surgery. Purpose: To review the results of instrumented lumbar surgery in patients with liver cirrhosis and determine the surgical risk factors in this group of patients. Study design: A retrospective study for comparison between two cohorts (liver cirrhosis vs. nonliver cirrhosis). Patient sample: Fifty-eight patients. Outcome measures: Child-Turcotte-Pugh scale was used to assess the patients' hepatic functional reserve. The clinical outcomes were evaluated by the five-grade patient-centered general outcome assessment questionnaire. Any event that led to reoperation, requirement of intensive care, prolonging of the hospital stay (more than 14 days), or admission after discharge within 30 days of surgery was defined as a perioperative complication. Methods: Between 1997 and 2009, patients with liver cirrhosis who had undergone instrumented lumbar surgeries for degenerative lumbar disease were studied. All data were compared with those for gender-, age-, and diagnosis-matched nonliver cirrhosis patients. Results: Liver cirrhotic patients had significantly lower preoperative hemoglobin, white blood cell counts, platelets, and albumin levels and higher prothrombin time and bilirubin level. Instrumented lumbar surgery was associated with significantly more blood loss, a longer hospital stay, and more complications in patients with liver cirrhosis compared with control patients. The final satisfactory rate was higher in the control group but without statistical difference (85% vs. 65%, p=.240). In the cirrhotic group, 22 patients (76%) were Child Class A and 7 patients (24%) were Child Class B; 12 patients developed one or more complications. Patients with Child Class B had a significantly higher incidence of complications than those with Child Class A (p=.006). In patients with Child Class A, those with a score of 6 also had a significantly higher incidence of complications than those with a score of 5 (p<.001). Female gender (p=.035), a low level of albumin (p=.002), presence of ascites (p=.029), and increased blood loss (p=.044) were associated with a higher risk of complications. Conclusions: The rate of complications after instrumented lumbar surgery was significantly higher in patients with cirrhosis than in control patients, especially in those with 6 or more Child-Turcotte-Pugh points. The surgeon should counsel these patients on the possibility of developing early complications. Several factors were associated with surgical complications and should be addressed by the spine surgeons before or when they perform these elective instrumented lumbar surgeries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-913
Number of pages6
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - 08 2013


  • Child-Turcotte-Pugh score
  • Complications
  • Degenerative lumbar disease
  • Instrumented lumbar surgery
  • Liver cirrhosis


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