Previous studies on the rates of adverse events (AEs) in spine surgery have been retrospective, using data from administrative databases and frequently from single sites. There have been no prospective reports on AEs in spine surgery nationally, with comparisons between facilities, to date. Using data from the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN) prospective registry, the researchers used the Spine Adverse Events Severity system to characterize the incidence and severity of AEs after spine surgery.

In this cohort, 3,533 patients were enrolled. Individual patients with at least one serious AE were 85 (2.4%), and individual patients with at least one minor AE were 680 (19.2%). Major AEs occurred at a similar proportion across locations (mean 2.9% ± 2.4%, range 0%–9.1%). On the other hand, Minor AE rates varied substantially between sites, ranging from 7.9% to 42.5%, with a mean of 18.8% ± 9.7%. They recorded Minor adverse events at different rates depending on how they were reported, with surgeon reporting having the lowest rates (p < 0.01).

The rate of serious AEs following lumbar spine surgery appears to be consistent across locations, whereas the prevalence of mild AEs tends to vary significantly. The way AEs are recorded impacts the rate of minor AEs. These findings have implications for the detection and reporting of adverse events and the development of interventions to reduce problems.