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Cost-Effectiveness of Spine Surgery: The Jury Is Out

Jeffrey N. Katz, MD, MSc; and Elena Losina, PhD
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

From Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

Requests for Single Reprints: Jeffrey N. Katz, MD, MSc, Orthopedic and Arthritis Center for Outcomes Research, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, OBC-4, Boston, MA 02115; e-mail, jnkatz@partners.org.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Katz: Orthopedic and Arthritis Center for Outcomes Research, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, OBC-4, Boston, MA 02115.

Ann Intern Med. 2008;149(12):901-903. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-149-12-200812160-00010
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Back pain affects more than 80% of persons and costs more than $100 billion annually in the United States (1). Although most patients with low back pain can be managed nonoperatively, spine surgery is an important option for patients with disabling herniated nucleus pulposus, lumbar spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis with stenosis. More than 650 000 surgical procedures are performed annually for these disorders in the United States, at a cost exceeding $20 billion (23). Whether this investment provides good value is largely unknown.

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