Weight loss medication linked to repeat operations among lumbar surgery patients: Study


Weight loss and diabetes medication semaglutide has been linked to a significantly greater risk for repeat operations in patients with diabetes who require lumbar surgery, according to a May 8 report from Medscape.

The report is based on a study led by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago. The results were presented at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons 2024 annual meeting.

The risk of an additional procedure was higher among patients who took semaglutide over long periods of time. While spine and orthopedic surgeons have considered the effect of semaglutides on patient care, this is the first study providing evidence of spine surgery effects, the report said. 

The study used the all-payer Mariner database to identify patients ages 18 to 74 with type 2 diabetes who underwent elective one- to three-level transforaminal lumbar interbody fusions between January 2018 and October 2022.

Of the patients, 447 patients used semaglutide and 1,334 did not. Total medical complications were higher in the semaglutide group, at 13.4%, compared with 7.7% in the no-semaglutide group. This was driven by higher rates of urinary tract infection and acute kidney injury, researchers said. 

Total surgical complications were lower in patients taking semaglutide, at 3.8% vs 5.2% in those who did not, but those taking the medication were nearly 12 times more likely to have an additional lumbar surgery at one year than did those who did not use the drug.

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