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J Clin Neurosci. 2018 May;51:80-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2018.02.013. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Association of insurance status and spinal fusion usage in the United States during two decades.

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School of Medicine, University of Texas Health San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229, United States.
Non-Communicable Diseases Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
Department of Neurosurgery-Neuro Critical Care, University of Texas Health San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229, United States. Electronic address:



This study examined the distribution of spinal fusion usage among payer groups in the United States.


Using the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database, total discharges, length of stay, and mean hospital charges of patients who underwent spinal fusion from 1997 to 2014 in the United States were determined and analyzed.


5,715,625 total discharges with spinal fusion were reported. Among them, 2,875,188 (50.3%) were covered by private insurance, 1,710,182 by Medicare (29.9%), 342,638 (6.0%) by Medicaid, and 91,990 (1.6%) were uninsured. A statistically significant increase in spinal fusion usage occurred within each payer group over the study period (P < 0.001). For every year of the study period, private insurance patients had the most number and uninsured patients had the least number of total discharges with spinal fusion. Furthermore, annual growth in spinal fusion usage was greatest among private insurance patients, and smallest among uninsured patients.


Total discharges with spinal fusion increased significantly across all payer groups between 1997 and 2014, but not equally. Further inquiry is indicated to determine the etiology of spinal fusion usage discrepancies between payer groups.


Insurance; Retrospective study; Spinal fusion; Univariate analysis

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