Tricare updates coverage to include lumbar total disc replacement after 2017 meeting with Aesculap Implant Systems: 4 things to know

Spinal Tech

Tricare now covers lumbar artificial disc replacements with Aesculap Implant Systems' activL Artificial Disc for active duty and retired military personnel and their families.


Here are four things to know:

1. Aesculap Implant Systems met with the U.S. Defense Health Agency in late 2017 to discuss long-term evidence in support of lumbar total disc replacement for single-level degenerative disc disease. The company presented data from a level 1a meta-analytic data demonstrating lumbar total disc replacement's superiority to fusion within the military population.

2. In the investigational device exemption study for activL, researchers found artificial disc replacement superior to fusion in preventing five-year adjacent segment disease.

3. On May 8, the Defense Health Agency published policy finding lumbar total disc replacement proven and medically necessary for Tricare beneficiaries with degenerative disc disease. Other payers have also noted the effectiveness of lumbar total disc replacement in the past year, and now more than 30 million Americans have access to the procedure.

4. The Tricare policy was set retroactive to November 2017. "In general, this population wants to get better and my experience so far has been that lumbar disc replacement with next generation technologies like activL Artificial Disc makes a great deal of sense for them," said William Reed, MD, who operates out of Blue Valley Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

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