A Comparison of the Elixhauser and Charlson Comorbidity Indices: Predicting In-Hospital Complications Following Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusions


The Elixhauser Comorbidity Index (ECI) and Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) are commonly utilized measures that use administrative data to characterize a patient’s comorbidity burden. The purpose of this study was to compare the ability of these measures to predict outcomes following anterior lumbar interbody fusions (ALIF).


he National Inpatient Sample (NIS) was queried for all ALIF procedures between 2013-2014. The area under the receiver operating curve (AUC) was used to compare the ECI and CCI in their ability to predict postoperative complications when incorporated into a base model containing age, sex, race, and primary payer. Percent superiority was computed using AUC values for ECI, CCI, and base models.


A total of 43,930 hospitalizations were included in this study. The ECI was superior to the CCI and baseline models in predicting minor (AUC 71 vs. 0.66, p<0.0001) and major (AUC 0.74 vs. 0.67, p<0.0001) complications. When evaluating individual complications, the ECI was superior to the CCI in predicting airway complications (65% superior, AUC 0.85 vs. 0.72, p=0.0001), hemorrhagic anemia (83% superior, AUC 0.71 vs. 0.66, p<0.0001), myocardial infarction (76% superior, AUC 0.86 vs. 0.67, p<0.0001), cardiac arrest (75% superior, AUC 0.85 vs. 0.67, p<0.0001), pulmonary embolism (105% superior, AUC 0.91 vs. 0.71, p<0.0001), and urinary tract infection (43% superior, AUC 0.76 vs. 0.73, p=0.046).


The ECI was superior to the CCI in predicting 6 of the 15 complications analyzed in this study. Combined with previous results, the ECI may be a better predictive model in spine surgery.


Anterior lumbar interbody fusions; Bundled payments; Charlson Comorbidity Index; Complications; Elixhauser Comorbidity Index; Outcomes; Spine.

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