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Sohrab S. Virk, Frank M. Phillips and Safdar N. Khan

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a progressive spinal condition that often requires surgery. Studies have shown the clinical equivalency of anterior versus posterior approaches for CSM surgery. The purpose of this study was to determine the amount and type of resources used for anterior and posterior surgical treatment of CSM by using large national databases of clinical and financial information from patients.

METHODS

This study consists of 2 large cohorts of patients who underwent either an anterior or posterior approach for treatment of CSM. These patients were selected from the Medicare 5% National Sample Administrative Database (SAF5) and the Humana orthopedic database (HORTHO), which is a database of patients with private payer health insurance. The outcome measures were the cost of a 90-day episode of care, as well as a breakdown of the cost components for each surgical procedure between 2005 and 2014.

RESULTS

A total of 16,444 patients were included in this analysis. In HORTHO, there were 10,332 and 1556 patients treated with an anterior or posterior approach for CSM, respectively. In SAF5, there were 3851 and 705 patients who were treated by an anterior or posterior approach for CSM, respectively. The mean ± SD reimbursements for anterior and posterior approaches in the HORTHO database were $20,863 ± $2014 and $23,813 ± $4258, respectively (p = 0.048). The mean ± SD reimbursements for anterior and posterior approaches in the SAF5 database were $18,219 ± $1053 and $25,598 ± $1686, respectively (p < 0.0001). There were also significantly higher reimbursements for a rehabilitation/skilled nursing facility and hospital/inpatient care for patients who underwent a posterior approach in both the private payer and Medicare databases. In all cohorts in this study, the hospital-related reimbursement was more than double the surgeon-related reimbursement.

CONCLUSIONS

This study provides resource utilization information for a 90-day episode of care for both anterior and posterior approaches for CSM surgery. There is a statistically significant higher resource utilization for patients undergoing the posterior approach for CSM, which is consistent with the literature. Understanding the reimbursement patterns for anterior versus posterior approaches for CSM will help providers design a bundled payment for patients requiring surgery for CSM, and this study suggests that a subset of patients who require the posterior approach for treatment also require greater resources. The data also suggest that hospital-related reimbursement is the major driver of payments.