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Cost Varies by Region in Spinal Fusion for Scoliosis

Per-patient average charge ranges from $103,256 to $152,637; length of stay also varies

THURSDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- There is significant variation in the cost and hospital length of stay (LOS) for spinal fusion for idiopathic scoliosis in different regions of the United States, according to research published in the May 15 issue of Spine.

Scott D. Daffner, M.D., of West Virginia University in Morgantown, and colleagues extracted records from a national insurance billing database on 76,741 idiopathic scoliosis patients (aged 10 to 24), 955 of whom underwent fusion surgery during 2004 to 2006.

Overall, the researchers found that the per-patient average charge (PPAC) for the procedure was $113,303 with an average LOS of 5.6 days. PPAC varied by region, with the West highest at $152,637 and the South lowest at $103,256. LOS was lowest in the South (5.2 days) and highest in the Midwest (6.5 days). The Northeast had the highest rate for anterior-only procedures and the lowest rate for posterior and anterior-posterior surgeries, while the Midwest had the highest rate of anterior-posterior surgery. Surgical technique and average charge did not vary significantly with patient age, although older patients, on average, had more complex procedures and longer LOS.

"Future studies that evaluate the demographics of spine surgeons in each region, as well as clinical outcomes and complications may help elucidate the reasons behind regional variation in cost and LOS," the authors conclude.

One or more of the authors disclosed ties to a commercial entity related to the subject of the study.

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