(HealthDay News) — Over the last decade, the number of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) fusion procedures has remained constant, although hospital charges for the procedure have increased substantially, according to a study published in the September 15 issue of Spine.

Christopher T. Martin, MD, from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, and colleagues used data from the National Inpatient Service to identify 29,594 AIS fusion cases (2001–2011). In addition, a single institution’s billing system was used to identify average charges from 40 cases over four years.

The researchers found that utilization rates for AIS fusions have remained constant, while utilization of adult spinal fusions increased by 64%. From 2001–2011, mean hospital charges for AIS spinal fusions increased from $72,780 to $155,278 (113% increase), averaging 11.3% annually, with charges for adult spinal procedures increasing at a similar rate (13.4% annually). For other nonspine conditions, charges increased to a lesser degree (range of 4.5–6% annually). At the researchers’ institution, spinal implant charges increased 27.6% annually, with implant charges as a portion of the total hospital bill increasing from 28% in 2003 to 53% in 2012. At the same time, surgeon charges decreased 0.5% annually, and all other charges increased only 5.2% annually.

“Spinal implants may be the primary driver of increased charges. Strategies directed toward implant cost savings may thus have the largest impact,” conclude the authors.

Relevant financial activities outside the submitted work were disclosed: board membership, consultancy, grants, royalties.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)