The use in spine surgery of bone-growth proteins like Medtronic Inc.’s product Infuse has led to widespread nationwide increases in hospital charges ranging from 11% to 41% above conventional surgical costs, researchers found.
The researchers studied the results of a broad U.S. sample of 328,000 spine surgeries from 2002 through 2006. They report their findings this week in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The authors, from both Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston and from Yale, also found that by 2006 the use of the new bone proteins, especially Infuse, had increased to nearly 25% of all operations in which spinal vertebrae are fused together to alleviate back pain.
“People know bone-growth protein is expensive, but this gives an idea of how expensive,” said Kevin S. Cahill, the lead author and a neurosurgeon at Brigham & Women’s hospital.