Patients undergoing posterior spinal instrumentation and fusion surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis were admitted to the intensive care unit until two years ago, at which time we changed our protocol to admit these patients to the general hospital floor following a brief stay in a postanesthesia care unit. This study compared postoperative management on a hospital floor with that in the intensive care unit for patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis undergoing posterior spinal fusion.Methods:
A retrospective review of 124 consecutive patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis treated with spinal fusion from August 2007 to August 2010 was performed. Inclusion criteria were a diagnosis of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and posterior spinal instrumentation and fusion surgery.Results:
Of 124 patients, sixty-six were managed postoperatively in the intensive care unit and fifty-eight, on the hospital floor. The mean age at the time of surgery was fourteen years. A mean of eleven vertebral levels (range, six to fifteen levels) were fused. No significant difference between the groups was found with respect to the mean age at the time of surgery, mean weight, mean preoperative and postoperative Cobb angles, and mean number of levels fused (p ≥ 0.12). However, the use of analgesic and antianxiety medication, number of postoperative blood tests, days of hospital stay, and number of physical therapy sessions were significantly decreased in the floor group compared with the intensive care unit group (p ≤ 0.05). No patient from the floor group had to be admitted to the intensive care unit. The mean charge was $33,121 for the floor group and $39,252 for the intensive care unit group (p < 0.001).Conclusions:
Initial postoperative management of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis following a posterior spinal instrumentation and fusion surgery on a general hospital floor, rather than in an intensive care unit, was associated with a shorter hospital stay, fewer blood tests, less analgesic and antianxiety medication usage, and fewer physical therapy sessions at this high-volume, academic, tertiary-care children’s hospital. In addition to improved patient outcomes, there was a significant decrease of 16% in hospital charges for the group that did not go to the intensive care unit.Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.