Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee re Spinal Fusion

Posted by Twocoastsm @marlenec, Jan 24 6:06pm

I just read an article in the LA Times about opioid use for chronic pain and it cited a summary of findings by the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee regarding spinal fusion surgery for low back pain/degenerative disc disease. The article mentioned the committee’s rather “tepid” appraisal of the effectiveness of this surgery despite the fact that Medicare pays for many procedures per year patients. As a 72-year-old to whom fusion has been presented as a possible/probable surgery to address spondylolisthesis and low back pain, I wondered if anyone in this group was aware of these findings and what your thoughts are?

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I'm following this closely as I too, have been told that spinal fusion, due to degenerative disc disease (DDD) is my next step. I'm of the opinion that this surgery will not bring the results I'm looking for & will lead to scar tissue on top of DDD & already significant arthritis in my L-S area.

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@coachdavid

I'm following this closely as I too, have been told that spinal fusion, due to degenerative disc disease (DDD) is my next step. I'm of the opinion that this surgery will not bring the results I'm looking for & will lead to scar tissue on top of DDD & already significant arthritis in my L-S area.

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I started out with arthritis of the spine some years ago, it has progressed to DDD. X-rays and Mri showed spinal stenosis and scoliosis. I was referred to pain management about two years ago. So far I have been through nerve block, radio frequency, si joint injection, bilateral hip bursa injections, none of procedures helped. I had a minuteman lumbar fusion this past Oct. and it was one of the most painful things I have gone through. I feel worse than before the surgery. I am doing PT at present for sacroiliitis but that just makes me sore. I also have bone on bone knee pain which make nights and early mornings the worst. I have opted not to take the opioids because of side effects. I just grin and bear it and stick with Tylenol. I don't know what the next procedure will be, but I keep hoping for the best.

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You need to look at statistics on the number of people who have had back surgery and who have been helped and who have not. When you’re in pain and a solution is offered and its success rate can be substantiated I’d say go for it, as I did in 1990. But I said no to remove my old metal and put in new titanium as my pain is no longer that intolerable.

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