Return to work after adult spinal deformity surgery

The International Spine Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine the proportions of patients returning to work at various points after adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery and the associations between surgical invasiveness and time to return to work. Methods: Using a multicenter database of patients treated surgically for ASD from 2008 to 2015, we identified 188 patients (mean age 51 ± 15 years) who self-reported as employed preoperatively and had 2-year follow-up. Per the ASD–Surgical and Radiographical Invasiveness Index (ASD–SR), 118 patients (63%) underwent high-invasiveness (HI) surgery (ASD–SR ≥ 100) and 70 (37%) had low-invasiveness (LI) surgery (ASD–SR < 100). Patients who self-reported ≥ 75% normal level of work/school activity were considered to be working full time. Chi-squared and Fisher exact tests were used to compare categorical variables (α =.05). Results: Preoperatively, 69% of employed patients worked full time. Postoperatively, 15% of employed patients were full time at 6 weeks, 70% at 6 months, 83% at 1 year, and 84% at 2 years. Percentage of employed patients working full time at 2 years was greater than preoperatively (p <.001); percentage of patients returning to full time at 6 weeks was lower in the HI (5%) than in the LI group (19%) (p =.03), a difference not significant at later points. Conclusions: Most adults returned to full-time work after ASD surgery. A smaller percentage of patients in the HI group than in the LI group returned to full-time work at 6 weeks. Patients employed full time preoperatively will likely return to full-time employment after ASD surgery. Level of evidence: III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalSpine deformity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Adult Spinal Deformity Surgical and Radiographical Invasiveness Index
  • Adult spinal deformity
  • Employment
  • Return to work
  • Surgical invasiveness


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