Increasing Lumbar Spinal Fusion Rates
There is a growing awareness in the medical literature that surgical rates for lowback pain are on the rise. A recent review of these studies reported some important statistics:
In 1990, 279,000 lumbar surgeries were performed -- 46,500 of these were lumbar fusions. From 1979 to 1990, total lumbar spine surgical rates increased 55% in the U.S.
During this same period, lumbar fusion surgeries increased 100%
The U.S. fusion rate in 1990 was 26 per 100,000. In the U.K., it was 2.3 per 100,000.
Many of the increased surgeries are performed on patients older than 65. These patients are more likely to have degenerative changes, but they are also more likely to suffer complications from the surgery.