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Cervical Spine Fusion More Common in Elderly

Last Updated: April 23, 2009.

Between 1992 and 2005, the adjusted rates of cervical spine fusions increased by 206 percent among Medicare beneficiaries, according to a study published in the April 20 issue of Spine.

THURSDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Between 1992 and 2005, the adjusted rates of cervical spine fusions increased by 206 percent among Medicare beneficiaries, according to a study published in the April 20 issue of Spine.

Marjorie C. Wang, M.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and colleagues studied 156,820 Medicare Part A spinal surgery admissions.

After adjusting for age, sex, and race, the researchers found that the rate of cervical fusions per 100,000 beneficiaries increased from 14.7 in 1992 to 45 in 2005. They also found that surgical patients were primarily male (52 percent) and white (88 percent) and that 58 percent of the fusions were anterior. In 2005, patients in the Northwest and South Central regions had the highest cervical fusion rates, which varied from 140 in Idaho to four in Washington, D.C.

"Future studies should evaluate the efficacy and complications associated with these procedures in the elderly, and better define surgical indications and patient outcome," the authors conclude.

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