Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Study Reveals: Rates of Spinal Surgery Varies Across US

Over 30 million Americans receive medical treatment for back pain. When surgery is recommended, the two most common procedures are spinal decompression and fusion. Both surgeries are widely used with varying degrees of success.

Spinal Surgery
Spinal Decompression
Spinal decompression surgeries involve removing tissues or bone that are decompressing, or putting pressure on, the nerves of the spine. This allows the spinal nerves to move freely and receive normal amounts of blood flow.

Across the country, the rate of use for spinal decompression varied eight-fold and is listed as follows:

  • 25 out of every 100,000 procedures in Bronx, New York
  • 217 out of every 100,000 procedures in Mason City, Iowa
  • The Pacific Northwest and mountainous areas had the highest number of procedures per 100,000 surgeries

Spinal Fusion
Spinal fusion is the process of surgically fusing two or more vertebrae together. This renders the vertebrae immobile and can limit a person's range of motion and overall flexibility.

Although surgeries in which spinal fusion is used failed to offer substantially more relief, its use has increased dramatically (almost 14 times) over that of spinal decompression.

In fact, research indicates that individuals who had a spinal fusion surgery ran a higher risk of infection than those who had a decompression surgery. From 2001 to 2011, the use of spinal fusion increased by almost 67 percent in patients who were on Medicare.

The national statistics for the use of spinal fusion procedures are as follows:

  • 9 out of every 100,000 procedures in Bangor, Maine
  • 127 out of every 100,000 procedures in Bradenton, Florida