The research spine surgeons should know in 2023


Multiple studies published paint a larger picture of the state of spine surgery. Here are eight key spine studies surgeons should know going into 2024:

1. Healthcare systems could be strained by growing demand for spinal fusion cases, according to a study published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research — a Wolters Kluwer publication. Vincent Heck, MD, a surgeon in Cologne, Germany, and his team evaluated nationwide data from the German Federal Statistical Office to estimate spinal fusion rates as functions of calendar year, age and gender. They estimated the use of posterior spinal fusion will grow 83 percent by 2060. 

2. Treating spinal stenosis with surgery instead of opting for conservative approaches is linked with lower two-year mortality rates and lower costs, according to a study in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

3. After adjusting for inflation, reimbursements for cervical disc replacement have fallen 12.9 percent between 2009 and 2021, according to an analysis in the International Journal of Spine Surgery. Cervical disc replacements jumped 183 percent from 2007 to 2017, and Medicare beneficiary utilization increasing 149 percent. Inflation-adjusted hospital charges for cervical disc replacement grew 22.4 percent, and inflation-adjusted Medicare reimbursement fell 1.2 percent per year. In 2009 reimbursement for the procedure was $1,928, and in 2021 it was $1,679.

4. Cervical disc replacement compared to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion did better at 10 years, according to a study in the International Journal of Spine Surgery.The study compared disc replacement using Zimmer Biomet's Mobi-C with ACDF across three centers. A total 155 patients were enrolled in the study, and composite success scores for the disc replacement group was 62.4 percent. The ACDF group had a composite success score of 22.2 percent.

5. Researchers at New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery and Weill Cornell Medicine discovered a new stem cell that could affect spine care. The findings, published in Nature, uncovered vertebral stem cells that are uniquely present in the spine.

6. Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion costs significantly less when performed in ASCs than the hospital setting for Medicare and privately insured patients, according to a study published in the Dec. 15 edition of Spine.

7. It's easier for surgeons experienced with minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusions to incorporate robotic technology into their practice than it is for early career attendings, according to a study published in the journal Spine.

8. The volume of cervical disc replacements grew steadily for nearly a decade, but have leveled off in the last few years, according to a study published in the journal Spine. Study authors examined data for cervical disc replacement and anterior cervical discectomy and fusion entered into the PearlDiver M151 Ortho data set. There were 19,301 single-level disc replacements and 181,476 ACDFs performed over the study period, 2010 to 2021.

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