Spine surgeons perform fusion on 7.5% of patients on average: 5 key trends

Written by Laura Dyrda | August 10, 2017 | Print  |

A new study published in Spine examines whether demographic factors affect spinal fusion rates.


The study authors analyzed CMS data of surgeons who performed 11 or more separate spinal fusion procedures between 2011 and 2013. There were 3,979 spine surgeons included in the study, performing spinal fusion on 171,676 patients. Study authors found:


1. Surgeons perform spinal fusions on around 7.5 percent of their patients on average.


2. Academic surgeons had a higher fusion rate than private practice surgeons.


3. Neurological surgeons were more likely to perform fusion than orthopedic surgeons.


4. Surgeons practicing in the West were more likely to perform surgery than those in the Midwest, South and Northeast.


5. The number of years a physician was in practice negatively associated with fusion rate.


"Significant variation in the rate of spinal fusion based on practice type, training, region and experience suggests poor consensus on indications for this procedure," concluded the study authors. "Knowledge of these relationships may help identify underlying reasons for variation in surgical care and improved surgical outcomes."


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