Studies show that lumbar fusion rates have risen more rapidly than other lumbar surgery in recent decades. The most rapid increases followed the approval of new surgical implants around 2000 and were much greater than increases in other major orthopedic procedures. Now that we are more than a decade into the 21st century, orthopedic specialists, like Dr. James Leipzig of Virginia Spine Care, are seeing more rapid recovery and prolonged health improvements from most types of orthopedic surgery.
This study on PubMed.gov, a website referenced by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, found that the frequency of spinal fusions had increased at a higher rate than other notable inpatient procedures from 1998 to 2008. The study’s goal was to provide a complete analysis of national trends in spinal fusion compared with trends in laminectomy, hip replacement, knee arthroplasty, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, and coronary artery bypass graft. The decade-long test sample showed that the annual number of spinal fusion discharges increased by 137%, or more than doubled, while the mean age for spinal fusion increased from 48.8 to 54.2 years.
A previous study researched US trends in lumbar fusion surgery for degenerative conditions. The findings showed that rates of lumbar fusion rose most rapidly among patients aged 60 and above, while the proportion of lumbar operations involving a fusion increased for all diagnoses.
It is our opinion that better health and improved technology, including the onset of minimally-invasive procedures, have contributed greatly to the increases we are seeing. Lowered risk factors for orthopedic surgery have opened the door for more people to seek treatment for conditions like chronic back pain.
Dr. Leipzig is a board-certified, Salem, Virginia spine surgeon with over two decades of experience. He specializes in procedures including robotic spine surgery, microsurgical lumbar surgery, disc arthroplasty, minimally invasive spine surgery, and more, serving the greater Roanoke, VA area. To learn more or schedule an appointment, please contact our office.