Dr. Christine Rehwald is an acting Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Department of Radiology and one of three recipients of the 2020-2021 CLEAR Center Pilot & Feasibility Awards.

Dr. Rehwald’s project is entitled, Spinal infection: assessing incidence, comorbidities, and costs using local and national databases to inform patient management and resource use strategies, and will confirm the effect of comorbidities on spinal infection (SI), singly and in combinations, and the associated inpatient/outpatient costs using patient-level data.

Spinal infection (SI) is associated with significant morbidity and costs to the healthcare system. Annual incidence of SI has been increasing, with proposed links to opioid use disorder within Washington State. Other risk factors for developing SI include diabetes mellitus (DM), chronic kidney disease, endocarditis, chronic liver disease, malnutrition, HIV infection and recent spine surgery. Dr. Rehwald and her team will assess clinical risk factors and test their impact on SI management costs. They aim to better identify and specify comorbidities; to evaluate inpatient, emergency, and outpatient costs; and to develop predictive cost-related models to guide future patient-management strategies and resource planning for SI patient care.

Of her work, Dr. Rehwald says “I feel very lucky to have been awarded a CLEAR center Pilot and Feasibility grant. This grant will enable us to access data regarding spinal infection, healthcare costs, and identify factors that put patient’s at higher risk for infection. With the CLEAR center’s support, we are hoping to make an impact on the local level (and beyond!) to help to better serve vulnerable populations and mitigate excessive costs. I am extremely thankful for their funding and support!”.