Recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) is used in spinal arthrodesis procedures to enhance bony fusion. Research has suggested that it is the most cost-effective fusion enhancer, but there are significant upfront costs for the healthcare system. The primary objective of this study was to determine whether intraoperative dosing and corresponding costs changed with surgeon cost awareness. The secondary objective was to describe surgical complications before and after surgeon awareness of rhBMP-2 cost.
A retrospective medical record review was conducted to identify patients who underwent spinal arthrodesis procedures performed by a single surgeon, supplemented with rhBMP-2, from June 2016 to June 2018. Collected data included rhBMP-2 dosage, rhBMP-2 list price, and surgical complications. Expected Medicare reimbursement was calculated. Data were analyzed before and after surgeon awareness of rhBMP-2 cost.
Forty-eight procedures were performed using rhBMP-2, 16 before and 32 after surgeon cost awareness. Prior to cost awareness, the most frequent rhBMP-2 dosage level was x-small (38.9%, n = 7), followed by large (27.8%, n = 5) and small (22.2%, n = 4). After cost awareness, the most frequent rhBMP-2 dosage was xx-small (56.8%, n = 21), followed by x-small (21.6%, n = 8) and large (13.5%, n = 5). The rhBMP-2 average cost per surgery was $4116.56 prior to surgeon cost awareness versus $2268.38 after. Two complications were observed in the pre—cost awareness surgical group; 2 complications were observed in the post—cost awareness surgical group.
Surgeon awareness of rhBMP-2 cost resulted in use of smaller rhBMP-2 doses, decreased rhBMP-2 cost per surgery, and decreased overall hospital admission charges, without a detectable increase in surgical complications.