Spine Surgery Field: 50 Things to Know

1. Average spine surgeon compensation in 2012 was $710,556 according to a report from the American Medical Group Association.

2. Neurosurgery generates $1.68 million in revenue for hospitals on average while the average 2012 hospital compensation for neurosurgeons was $669,000. The revenue-to-compensation ratio was 2.52:1, according to a report from Merritt Hawkins.

A separate report from Mercer reported neurosurgeons as among the top-=five highest paid physician specialists. Here are the average hospital neurosurgeon base salaries and total cash compensation in 2012:

Neurosurgeon base salary
25th percentile: $629,160
50th percentile: $663,760
75th percentile: $702,700

Neurosurgeon total cash compensation
25th percentile: $664,330
50th percentile: $713,740
75th percentile: $778,890

3. Between 1998 and 2008, the discharges for spinal fusion procedures increased 137 percent, according to data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample. During the same period, laminectomy increased only 11.3 percent, hip replacement increased 49.8 percent and percutaneous coronary angioplasty increased 38.8 percent.

4. Long-term data on artificial disc replacement is now coming in. A recent study published in Spine showed the reoperation rate for total disc replacement in cervical procedures was 8.3 percent, compared with anterior cervical fusion with 21.2 percent.

5. The BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, which made the news in 2011 for its refusal to cover spinal fusions for degenerative disc disease as the only indication, released a statement labeling artificial discs as "ineffective." Spine surgeon advocates, including Domagoj Coric, MD, of ISASS responded to the statement citing information supporting artificial disc replacements in appropriate situations.

Read the full report on Becker's Spine Review.

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