Charges for spine surgery vs. total joint replacement: Which is more? 5 things to know


A new study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine examines the charges associated with spine surgery never events.

The researchers examined the California State Inpatient Database from 2008 to 2009 for patients who underwent anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, posterior lumbar interbody fusion, lumbar laminectomy and total hip and knee replacements. The average charges from surgery through three months were examined.


The researchers found:


1. The lowest incidence of adverse events occurred in ACDF:


• DVT: 0.6 percent
• PE: 0.1 percent
• SSI: 00.3 percent


By contrast, the highest was total knee replacement with 1.3 percent DVT, 0.3 percent PE and 0.6 percent SSI.


2. The average inpatient charges for the uncomplicated lumbar laminectomy was $51,817. By contrast, the other spine procedures cost:


ACDF: $73,432
PLIF: $143,601
THR: $74,459
TKR: $70,116


3. The charges for patients with PE were $127,958 for TKR, which was 1.8 times greater than index; at the same time, charges for PE patients us that underwent PLIF was $246,637, 1.7 times greater.


4. The charges for the SSI patient were from $168,964 — 2.4 times greater than index — to $385,753 for PLIF.


5. The study information could be used to predict cost of care and eliminate waste in the future.


“Cost projection by healthcare providers will need to incorporate expected costs of added care for patients experiencing such complications, assuming that the cost burden of such events continues to shift from payers to providers,” concluded the study authors.

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