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Previous studies have shown coherence between obesity and higher rates of complications following spinal surgery. However, there is a lack of information about the influence of obesity and the mass of outer abdominal fat (OAF) on adjacent segment instability after spinal fusion surgery. Radiographs of 194 patients with spinal fusion surgery were assessed retrospectively. Radiographs were performed after surgery during two years’ follow-up and signs of adjacent segment instability were documented. Patients were classified regarding their BMI and extent of OAF was assessed using CT at the umbilical level. In 20 patients (10.3%) instability of adjacent segments occurred during followup. In this cohort mean OAF was significantly thicker (28.07 mm) compared to the patients without instability (22.39) (P=0.038). A total of 45% of patients with instability showed OAF of more than 30 mm at time of intervention compared to 10% in those without signs of instability. There exists significant correlation between the extent of OAF and development of adjacent segment instability postoperatively. Thus, weight reduction before spinal surgery could potentially decrease risk of adjacent segment instability.
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