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4 Reasons To Avoid Complex Spinal Surgeries

An April 6, 2010 Reuters article reveals that between 2002 and 2007, the federal Medicare program showed a 15-fold increase in the rate of complex surgeries to treat spinal stenosis.  Spinal stenosis is a common condition found in the elderly in which the spinal canal narrows, causing pain in the back and legs.

Here are the 4 Reasons you want to avoid complex spinal surgeries at all cost.

1.  Little benefit: Complex spinal surgeries offer little benefit over simpler procedures for most patients.  A higher percentage of the patients receiving the complicated surgery felt worse compared to patients receiving the less complicated procedure.

2.  Increased risk: Complex surgeries had an increased risk of complications. Study found patients who had the complex surgeries had nearly 3 times higher odds of life threatening complications compared to those who received the less invasive procedures.

3.  Less proven: The complicated procedures are far LESS proven than the more basic surgical procedures.

4.  Costly: The complicated procedures were FAR more expensive.

As an avid supporter of conservative care, I find this article remarkably enlightening.  Ignoring the obvious financial incentive to perform the more complicated procedures, it is hard to find much support for the use of unproven, more complicated procedures, especially when the more conservative approaches were as effective, if not more so.

To read the article in its entirety,  click Reuters Article.

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