ANCHOR LEAD: MAKING SENSE OF THE STUDIES IN BACK SURGERY IS IMPORTANT, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Who should have back surgery is a subject of intense debate among physicians and surgeons, with a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine perhaps shedding some light. Kieran Murphy, an expert in back problems at Johns Hopkins, says looking at this study critically is helpful.
MURPHY: It’s important to have appropriateness criteria to make sure that patients get what they need, not what industry tells us that they need, and this paper helps to select those who will benefit from the procedure. It is interesting to look at the paper and the conflicts of interest disclosed by the authors because, as is common in the area of spinal surgery, many of them do have royalty relationships with the manufacturers of devices that are used in this study. Our job is to differentiate between marketing and science. It is difficult to do that and to get it right every day. This paper helps us to do that. :29
Murphy says those considering back surgery must make sure their evaluation is as objective as possible. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.