With a lesser degree of tissue destruction, patients undergoing minimally-invasive spine surgery are primed to benefit from early mobilization, which can further enhance recovery and hasten rehabilitation. We aimed to determine the role of physical therapy on earlier discharge after minimally-invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF).
Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative (MSSIC) provided patients undergoing one- and two-level minimally-invasive TLIF for degenerative lumbar disease. The study population was divided into patients with a one-day length of stay (LOS 1), two days (LOS 2), and three or more days (LOS ≥ 3) to maintain three equal-time cohorts. On POD 0, physical therapy (or, in very rare circumstances, a spine-care-specialized nurse in patients arriving to the in-patient floors late after hours) must evaluate capacity to ambulate.
Of the 101 patients, the median day of first ambulation statistically significantly increased from the LOS 1 to LOS ≥ 3 cohort (P = 0.007). Mean distance ambulated decreased from 156.5 ± 123.1 feet in the LOS 1 group, 108.9 ± 83.9 feet in the LOS 2 group, to 69.2 ± 58.3 feet in the LOS ≥ 3 group (P = 0.002). Patient-reported outcomes did not differ among the three cohorts. Following a multivariable ordinal logistical regression controlling for disposition to rehab over home (OR = 5.47, P = 0.045), the odds of longer LOS decreased by 39% for every 50-feet ambulated (P = 0.002).
Time to first ambulation independently increases the odds of earlier discharge, regardless of comorbidity burden and surgical determinants.
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