Back Pain :: Medicare to review spinal disk fusion surgery

An advisory panel of U.S. Medicare program is reviewing the spinal disk fusion surgery to treat chronic lower back pain, especially in older patients, by fusing part of the spine faces.

Lower back pain is one of the most common health complaints among Americans. A number of recent studies have cast doubt on whether fusing worn-out discs together is better than exercise and other rehabilitation in patients with various back pain, including degenerative disc disease – the gradual breakdown of spinal discs usually caused by aging.

“This (advisory committee) is to gather evidence,” Steve Phurrough, director of coverage for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said.

Analysts say a CMS decision to stop paying for the surgery in elderly and disabled patients covered by the government insurance program could hurt makers of devices used in spinal fusion surgery and hospitals.

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