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OBJECTIVE: Increased surgical volume has been associated with improved patient outcomes at the surgeon and hospital level. To date, clinically meaningful stratified volume benchmarks have yet to be defined for surgeons or hospitals in the context of spinal fusion surgery. The objective of this study was to establish evidence-based thresholds using outcomes and cost to stratify surgeons and hospitals performing spinal fusion surgery by volume. METHODS: Using 155,788 patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery, we created and applied 4 models using stratum-specific likelihood ratio (SSLR) analysis of a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. This statistical approach was used to generate 4 sets of volume thresholds predictive of increased length of stay (LOS) and increased cost for surgeons and hospitals. RESULTS: SSLR analysis of the 2 ROC curves by annual surgical volume produced 3 or 4 distinct volume categories. Analysis of LOS by annual surgeon spinal fusion volume produced 4 strata: low, medium, high, and very high. Analysis of LOS by annual hospital spinal fusion volume produced 3 strata: low, medium, and high. No relationship between volume and cost could be clearly defined based on the generation of ROC curves for surgeons or hospitals offering spinal fusion. CONCLUSION: This study used evidence-based thresholds to identify a direct, variable relationship model between volume and outcomes of spinal fusion surgery, using LOS as a surrogate, for both surgeons and hospitals. A fixed relationship model was identified between surgeon and hospital volume and cost, as no statistically meaningful relationship could be established.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





249 - 260


Spinal fusion, Stratum-specific likelihood ratio, Value-volume