Updated on 29 August 2012
Many patients choose conventional minimally invasive spine surgery because they know the outcomes are predictable
Many of the new techniques and equipments developed over the past few years for spine surgery have leaned toward the less invasive approach, which is gaining in popularity across the US. However, 80-to-90 percent of surgeons are still performing open surgeries, which they have perfected over the years.
Healthcare reform in the US could slow technological advances in the coming years due to uncertain reimbursements and increased fees on medical device makers. As we approach 2013, industry leaders weigh in on the future of spine surgery and the cost associated with it.
US Healthcare reform's impact on spine surgery
In the current atmosphere of anxiety regarding the "unknowns" of healthcare reform, many spine surgeons are opting to proceed with their practice cautiously. An increase in patient volume due to growth in the aging population coupled with diminishing reimbursement rates means spine surgeons will be looking for less costly surgery systems that are easy-to-use, according to Dr Chris Zorn, vice president, Spine Surgical Innovation.
Physicians who are working in hospital settings must justify their spending, which could lead to a decrease in purchasing of new and complex technologies that facilities are currently willing to purchase. While technology may continue to advance, physicians may not have the resources to learn new procedures or gain access to the equipment.
In Asia and Europe "Generally speaking, spine, like many other surgical areas, has certain things that become trendy, but my observations are that physicians worldwide are sticking to the basics," says Mr Zorn. "We live in a world of trying to keep it simple, keep the learning steps simple, minimize the impact of surgery on the budget as well as the impact of the procedure on the staff, surgeon and patient's time."