Intraoperative death during cervical spinal surgery: A retrospective multicenter study

Jeffrey C. Wang, Zorica Buser, David E. Fish, Elizabeth L. Lord, Allison K. Roe, Dhananjay Chatterjee, Erica L. Gee, Erik N. Mayer, Marisa Y. Yanez, Owen J. McBride, Peter I. Cha, Paul M. Arnold, Michael G. Fehlings, Thomas E. Mroz, K. Daniel Riew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design: A retrospective multicenter study. Objective: Routine cervical spine surgeries are typically associated with low complication rates, but serious complications can occur. Intraoperative death is a very rare complication and there is no literature on its incidence. The purpose of this study was to determine the intraoperative mortality rates and associated risk factors in patients undergoing cervical spine surgery. Methods: Twenty-one surgical centers from the AOSpine North America Clinical Research Network participated in the study. Medical records of patients who received cervical spine surgery from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2011, were reviewed to identify occurrence of intraoperative death. Results: A total of 258 patients across 21 centers met the inclusion criteria. Most of the surgeries were done using the anterior approach (53.9%), followed by posterior (39.1%) and circumferential (7%). Average patient age was 57.1 ± 13.2 years, and there were more male patients (54.7% male and 45.3% female). There was no case of intraoperative death. Conclusions: Death during cervical spine surgery is a very rare complication. In our multicenter study, there was a 0% mortality rate. Using an adequate surgical approach for patient diagnosis and comorbidities may be the reason how the occurrence of this catastrophic adverse event was prevented in our patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127S-131S
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number1_suppl
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • cervical spine
  • complications
  • death
  • multicenter
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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