Clinical Data

Complications in SI Joint Fusion (Rahl - Clin Spine Surg 2022)

Analysis of Complications in Sacroiliac Joint Fusions Using FDA 510(k) Cleared Devices

Rahl MD, Weistroffer J, Dall BE.
Clin Spine Surg. 2022 Apr 1;35(3):E363-E367.
DOI: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000001264. PMID: 35239289.


Study Design: This was a level III-retrospective cohort study.

Objective: The objective of this study was to present an unbiased report of the current rate of severe complications for Federal Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) cleared sacroiliac joint (SIJ) fusions and investigate the underlying cause of these complications.

Summary of Background Data: The number of yearly SIJ fusions is on an upward trend. Currently, the most utilized implants to fuse the SIJ have been FDA 510(k) cleared devices. Studies reporting on complications following SIJ fusions are mostly industry-sponsored.

Materials and Methods: The Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database was searched for all reported FDA 510(k) cleared SIJ fusion device complications. Several data points were obtained from each report and recorded. The Hospital Inpatient National Statistics and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was also searched for the number of SIJ fusions performed each year.

Results: A search of the MAUDE database returned 1115 reports, with the first report on June 30, 2011, and the last report on July 28, 2020. Patient injury was the most common type of event reported at 97.5% (1080/1107). Death was reported in 3 patients (0.3%). Malposition was the most common device problem at 49.5% (548/1107). The root cause of these events was primarily user error at 58.2% (644/1107). Revision surgery or reoperation occurred in 92.8% (1028/1107) of reports. Data for SIJ fusions through CMS showed an overall trend of increasing yearly SIJ fusions.

Conclusion: The majority of complications reported to MAUDE for FDA 510(k) cleared SIJ fusion devices are user error due to improper placement of implants. These complications are likely underreported, and there is currently no formal tracking system of total SIJ fusions performed to calculate accurate complication and revision rates. Patient injury and health care costs can potentially be reduced with improved education, training, and oversight, which is currently lacking.

Author information

  • Rahl MD - Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Western Michigan University School of Medicine, Kalamazoo, MI.
  • Weistroffer J
  • Dall BE

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