INVASIVE BACK SURGERY
ANCHOR LEAD: MORE PEOPLE ARE HAVING MORE EXTENSIVE BACK SURGERY, BUT WHY? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
More older people are having more extensive back surgery, a recent study of Medicare recipients in the Journal of the American Medical Association found. But why? Are people experiencing more severe back issues as they age, or as the authors of the study suggest, is a profit motive driving this increase? Simon Mears, chair of orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins Bayview, offers his opinion.
MEARS: I think it’s a difficult question. We do know from studies that have been published in the past that the numbers of spine surgeries vary in different areas of the country depending on how many practitioners are there. So I think this can go both ways, one, patients really wanting something done for their back pain or back problem, and two, having somebody who’s trained and competent to do it. And I think they’re difficult issues to sort out. :29
Mears says anyone considering back surgery should seek a second and perhaps even a third opinion before proceeding. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.