March 8, 2024

Rise of unnecessary spinal fusion surgeries concerns surgeons

Editor's Note

Spine surgeons are sounding the alarm about high numbers of unnecessary fusion surgeries, according to a March 5 report in Becker’s Spine Review.

Unnecessary surgeries refer to any surgical intervention that is not needed or in the patient’s best interest. A recent report from Forbes finds that 50% of lumbar spine surgeries are unnecessary.  According to a report from the Lown Institute, over 30,000 spine surgeries were performed unnecessarily between March and December 2020 alone, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In terms of spinal fusions specifically, the institute found that there were 13,541 unnecessary procedures during that time frame. 

Although spinal fusion surgery can help patients with back and spine conditions, surgeons warn that overuse can lead to unnecessary risks and drive up healthcare costs. 

To combat this trend, experts advise focusing on evidence-based medicine and working collaboratively with other spine surgeons to ensure that clinicians are advising the right interventions and following the best steps for patient care.  


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