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

An important area, according to Delamarter, was patient satisfaction with the procedure. Four years after surgery, nearly 88 percent of disc replacement patients reported that they were very to completely satisfied, compared with 76 percent of fusion patients. When asked if they would undergo the same surgery again, 89 percent of disc replacement patients and 81 percent of fusion patients said yes.

"While the results of this 13-center study are preliminary, it appears that artificial disc replacement surgery compares favorably as an effective procedure, is preferred by patients and slows the rate of adjacent-level disease," Delamarter said.

Spinal fusion has been recognized as one of the more expensive surgical procedures. The second study looked at costs and is believed to be the first to compare those of three-level disc replacement with three-level fusion. It evaluated itemized billing records of 53 patients undergoing surgery for three consecutive discs of the low back (lumbar spine) at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., where Delamarter practiced before joining Cedars-Sinai.

Total hospital costs for patients undergoing disc replacement surgery averaged 49 percent lower than those for fusion patients

The number of fusions for low back pain is rising rapidly, but Delamarter urges hospitals, insurers and surgeons to consider alternatives, including total disc replacement.

"After safety and effectiveness of a procedure have been documented, cost is an important consideration," he said. "Artificial disc replacement technology appears to offer a promising, cost-saving alternative to fusion, especially for patients with disease at three levels."


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Contact: Simi Singer
simi.singer@cshs.org
310-435-9435
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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