Over the past 15 years, the number of spinal fusion surgeries has drastically increased, but unfortunately, the rate of success hasn’t been commensurate with that growth. There’s been a 77% increase in the number of annual spinal fusion surgeries between 1996 and 20011, but studies indicate that as few as 50% of these fusion patients demonstrate improvement. The increase in fusion procedures, especially complex fusions, has often led to an increase in complications, with little to no evidence of benefit — effectively demonstrating that current guidelines for indicated surgery are not adequately based on outcomes.

Going forward, surgeons must be able to demonstrate to payers the value of performing complex procedures, above and beyond the risk of complications. In order to ensure reimbursement from payers and satisfy patients, it will become essential for surgeons to improve diagnostic precision in assessing spinal disorders.

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