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J Neurosurg. 2010 Jul;113(1):10-5. doi: 10.3171/2010.1.JNS09842.

The 2009 devaluation of radiosurgery and its impact on the neurosurgery-radiation oncology partnership.

Author information

1
Department of Neurosurgery, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132, USA. mpeterheilbrun@msn.com

Abstract

Neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and, increasingly, other surgical specialists recognize that radiosurgery is an important tool for managing selected disorders throughout the body. The partnership between neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists has resulted in collaborative studies that have established the clinical benefits of radiosurgery. Today, however, a range of political and financial issues is straining this relationship and thereby undermining the practice of radiosurgery. Neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists recently restricted the definition of radiosurgery to include only cranial- and spine-focused radiation treatments. Meanwhile, organized radiation oncology decided unilaterally that radiosurgery administered to other parts of the body would be termed stereotactic body radiation therapy. Finally, neurosurgical and radiation oncology coding experts developed new Current Procedural Terminology codes for cranial vault and spine radiosurgery, which were approved for use by the Relative Value Scale Update Committee as of 2009. The authors suggest that the neurosurgery strategy-which included 1) reasserting that all of the tasks of a radiosurgery procedure remain bundled, and 2) agreeing to limit the definition of radiosurgery to cranial vault and spine-has failed neurosurgeons who perform radiosurgery, and it may jeopardize patient access to this procedure in the future. The authors propose that all of the involved medical specialties recognize that the application of image-guided, focused radiation therapy throughout the body requires a partnership between radiation and surgical disciplines. They also urge surgeons to reexamine their coding methods, and they maintain that Current Procedural Terminology codes should be consistent across all of the different specialties involved in these procedures. Finally, surgeons should consider appropriate training in medical physics and radiobiology to perform the tasks involved in these specific procedures; ultimately all parties should receive equivalent reimbursement for similar assigned tasks, whether performed individually or jointly.

PMID:
20170303
DOI:
10.3171/2010.1.JNS09842
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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