A retrospective study of Medicare claim-level data examined the cost of care for patients who were treated non-surgically for sacroiliitis and published their findings in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.
The researchers examined the Medicare 5 percent Standard Analytical Files for 2005 to 2010 for patients with continuous enrollment for at least one year before and five years after a diagnosis of sacroiliitis. There were 14,552 patients included in the study with direct medical costs at $18,527±$28,285 per patient. The cumulative five-year cost was $63,913±$46,870 per patient among the subgroup of patients who underwent lumbar spinal fusion and $16,769±$25,753 per patient among those who did not undergo fusion.
The largest part of the cumulative five year costs were due to inpatient hospitalization, outpatient physician office and hospital outpatient costs. Among the 14,522 Medicare beneficiaries examined, the total cost related to SI joint disruption or degenerative sacroiliitis was approximately $270 million.
"In patients who suffer from LBP due to SI joint disruption or degenerative sacroiliitis, this retrospective Medicare claims data analysis demonstrates that nonoperative care is associated with substantial costs and medical resource utilization," concluded the authors. "The economic burden of SI joint disruption and degenerative sacroiliitis among Medicare beneficiaries in the U.S. is substantial and highlights the need for more cost-effective therapies to treat this condition and reduce healthcare expenditures."