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For back, neck pain, artificial disc replacement has cost, outcome advantages over fusion surgery
Date:3/22/2011

LOS ANGELES (March 22, 2011) When physical therapy and drugs fail to relieve back or neck pain, patients often turn to spinal fusion surgery as a last resort, but two new studies show that in certain situations, especially when several discs are involved, artificial disc replacement may give better long-term results at lower cost.

Hospital costs for artificial disc replacement were 49 percent lower, and four years out from surgery, artificial disc patients were four times less likely to need additional surgery than those who had fusion operations, according to two recently published studies.

"Back pain is the fifth leading cause of hospital admission and the third most common reason for surgery," said orthopaedic surgeon Rick B. Delamarter, M.D., co-director of the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center. "Estimates vary and are probably understated, but health care expenditures for back pain top $91 billion a year, not including indirect and societal costs such as time lost from work and worker's compensation.It is crucial that we develop surgical procedures that are cost effective without sacrificing high-quality results."

Delamarter is a lead author of the two studies, which were published recently in the SAS Journal of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery and the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.

Both studies compared disc replacement surgery with the more common fusion operation to treat degenerative disc disease deterioration caused by aging and wear and tear. One study looked at 209 patients with damaged neck discs who received either minimally invasive disc replacement or the more complex spinal fusion surgery. These patients were followed at regular intervals for four years. A separate group of 136 who received an artificial disc two years after the first group also were part of the study. All patients were assessed on their satisfaction with the results of the procedure. The other study foc
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Contact: Simi Singer
simi.singer@cshs.org
310-435-9435
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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