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Pierce D. Nunley, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Richard G. Fessler, Paul Park, Joseph M. Zavatsky, Juan S. Uribe, Robert K. Eastlack, Dean Chou, Michael Y. Wang, Neel Anand, Kelly A. Frank, Marcus B. Stone, Adam S. Kanter, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Praveen V. Mummaneni and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to educate medical professionals about potential financial impacts of improper diagnosis-related group (DRG) coding in adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery.

METHODS

Medicare’s Inpatient Prospective Payment System PC Pricer database was used to collect 2015 reimbursement data for ASD procedures from 12 hospitals. Case type, hospital type/location, number of operative levels, proper coding, length of stay, and complications/comorbidities (CCs) were analyzed for effects on reimbursement. DRGs were used to categorize cases into 3 types: 1) anterior or posterior only fusion, 2) anterior fusion with posterior percutaneous fixation with no dorsal fusion, and 3) combined anterior and posterior fixation and fusion.

RESULTS

Pooling institutions, cases were reimbursed the same for single-level and multilevel ASD surgery. Longer stay, from 3 to 8 days, resulted in an additional $1400 per stay. Posterior fusion was an additional $6588, while CCs increased reimbursement by approximately $13,000. Academic institutions received higher reimbursement than private institutions, i.e., approximately $14,000 (Case Types 1 and 2) and approximately $16,000 (Case Type 3). Urban institutions received higher reimbursement than suburban institutions, i.e., approximately $3000 (Case Types 1 and 2) and approximately $3500 (Case Type 3). Longer stay, from 3 to 8 days, increased reimbursement between $208 and $494 for private institutions and between $1397 and $1879 for academic institutions per stay.

CONCLUSIONS

Reimbursement is based on many factors not controlled by surgeons or hospitals, but proper DRG coding can significantly impact the financial health of hospitals and availability of quality patient care.

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Khoi D. Than, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Stacie Nguyen, Michael Y. Wang, Dean Chou, Pierce D. Nunley, Neel Anand, Richard G. Fessler, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Shay Bess, Behrooz A. Akbarnia, Vedat Deviren, Juan S. Uribe, Frank La Marca, Adam S. Kanter, David O. Okonkwo, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Praveen V. Mummaneni and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) techniques are increasingly used to treat adult spinal deformity. However, standard minimally invasive spinal deformity techniques have a more limited ability to restore sagittal balance and match the pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) than traditional open surgery. This study sought to compare “best” versus “worst” outcomes of MIS to identify variables that may predispose patients to postoperative success.

METHODS

A retrospective review of minimally invasive spinal deformity surgery cases was performed to identify parameters in the 20% of patients who had the greatest improvement in Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores versus those in the 20% of patients who had the least improvement in ODI scores at 2 years' follow-up.

RESULTS

One hundred four patients met the inclusion criteria, and the top 20% of patients in terms of ODI improvement at 2 years (best group, 22 patients) were compared with the bottom 20% (worst group, 21 patients). There were no statistically significant differences in age, body mass index, pre- and postoperative Cobb angles, pelvic tilt, pelvic incidence, levels fused, operating room time, and blood loss between the best and worst groups. However, the mean preoperative ODI score was significantly higher (worse disability) at baseline in the group that had the greatest improvement in ODI score (58.2 vs 39.7, p < 0.001). There was no difference in preoperative PI-LL mismatch (12.8° best vs 19.5° worst, p = 0.298). The best group had significantly less postoperative sagittal vertical axis (SVA; 3.4 vs 6.9 cm, p = 0.043) and postoperative PI-LL mismatch (10.4° vs 19.4°, p = 0.027) than the worst group. The best group also had better postoperative visual analog scale back and leg pain scores (p = 0.001 and p = 0.046, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors recommend that spinal deformity surgeons using MIS techniques focus on correcting a patient's PI-LL mismatch to within 10° and restoring SVA to < 5 cm. Restoration of these parameters seems to impact which patients will attain the greatest degree of improvement in ODI outcomes, while the spines of patients who do the worst are not appropriately corrected and may be fused into a fixed sagittal plane deformity.