Current Issue - September 2021 - Vol 24 Issue 6


  1. 2021;24;401-415Utilization and Expenditures of Vertebral Augmentation Continue to Decline: An Analysis in Fee-For-Service (FFS) Recipients from 2009 to 2018
    Health Services Research
    Laxmaiah Manchikanti, MD, Sri Harsha Vardhan Senapathi, MD, James M. Milburn, MD, Allan L. Brook, MD, Brahma Prasad Vangala, MBBS, Vidyasagar Pampati, MSc, Mahendra R. Sanapati, MD, and Joshua A. Hirsch, MD.

BACKGROUND: Despite the high prevalence of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) associated with refractory pain, deformity, or progressive neurological symptoms, minimally invasive vertebral augmentation procedures, including vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, have been declining in their relative utilization, along with expenditures.

OBJECTIVES: This investigation was undertaken to assess utilization and expenditures for vertebral augmentation procedures, including vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, in the fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare population from 2009 to 2018.

STUDY DESIGN: The present study was designed to assess utilization and expenditures in all settings, for all providers in the FFS Medicare population from 2009 to 2018 in the United States. In this manuscript:
• A patient was described as receiving vertebral augmentation over the course of the year.
• An episode was considered as one treatment per region per day utilizing primary codes only.
• Services or procedures were considered to be procedures including multiple levels.

A standard 5% national sample of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) physician outpatient billing claims data for those enrolled in the FFS Medicare program from 2009 to 2018 was utilized. All the expenditures were presented with allowed costs and adjusted for inflation to 2018 US dollars.

RESULTS: In 2009, there were 76,860 episodes of vertebral augmentation with a rate of 168 per 100,000 Medicare population, which declined to 58,760, or 99 per 100,000 population for a total decline of 41%, or an annual rate of decline of 5.7% per 100,000 Medicare population. Vertebroplasty interventions declined more dramatically than kyphoplasty from 2009. Total episodes of vertebroplasty were 27,380 with an annual rate of 60 per 100,000 Medicare population, decreasing to 9,240, or 16 per 100,000 Medicare population, a 66% decline in episodes and a 74% decline in overall rate with an annual decline of 11.4% and 13.9%. In contrast, kyphoplasty interventions were 49,480, for a rate per 100,000 population of 108 in 2009 compared to 49,520 in 2018 with a rate of 83, for a decrease of 23% and 2.9% annual decrease.

Evaluation of expenditures showed a net decrease of $30,102,809, or 8%, from $378,758,311 in 2009 to $348,655,502 in 2018. However, inflation-adjusted expenditures decreased overall by 21% and 3% annually from $443,147,324 in 2009 to $345,655,502 in 2018. In addition, inflation-adjusted total expenditures per 100,000 Medicare population decreased from $967,549 to $584,992, for an overall decrease of 40%, or an annual decrease of 5%. Per patient expenditures decreased 2% overall with 0% decrease per year.

LIMITATIONS: Vertebral augmentation procedures were assessed only in the FFS Medicare service population. This excluded over 30% of the Medicare population, which is enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows a significant decline in relative utilization patterns of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedures, along with reductions in overall expenditures. The inflation-adjusted total expenditures of kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty decreased 21% with an annual decline of 3%. The inflation-adjusted expenditures per 100,000 of Medicare population decreased 40% overall and 5% per year. In addition, vertebroplasty has seen substantial declines in utilization and expenditure patterns compared to kyphoplasty procedures, which showed trends of decline.

KEY WORDS: Osteoporosis, osteoporotic compression fracture, vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, vertebral augmentation, expenditures, inflation-adjusted, utilization