Current Issue - August 2021 - Vol 24 Issue 5


  1. 2021;24;293-308Spinal Cord Stimulation Trends of Utilization and Expenditures in Fee-For-Service (FFS) Medicare Population from 2009 to 2018
    Expenditure Analysis
    Laxmaiah Manchikanti, MD, Vidyasagar Pampati, MSc, Brahma Prasad Vangala, MBBS, Amol Soin, MD, Mahendra R. Sanapati, MD, Srinivasa Thota, MD, and Joshua A. Hirsch, MD.

BACKGROUND: Spinal cord stimulation has been utilized with increasing frequency in managing chronic intractable spinal pain and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in addition to other neuropathic pain states. The literature has shown the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation in managing chronic pain with improvement in quality of life and cost utility. There have not been any reviews performed in the fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare population in reference to utilization and expenditure patterns of spinal cord stimulators.

OBJECTIVES: This investigation was undertaken to assess the utilization and expenditures for spinal cord stimulation in the FFS Medicare population from 2009 to 2018.

STUDY DESIGN: The present study was designed to assess the utilization patterns and expenditures in all settings, for all providers in the FFS Medicare population from 2009 to 2018 in the United States.

A standard 5% national sample of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) physician outpatient billing claims data. All the expenditures were presented with allowed costs and adjusted to inflation to 2018 US dollars only trials and implants were included.

RESULTS: Utilization patterns showed that spinal cord stimulation trials increased from 12,680 in 2009 to 36,280 in 2018, a 186% increase with an annual increase of 12.4%. The rate of trials per 100,000 population increased from 28 in 2009 to 61 in 2018 with a 120% increase, or an annual increase of 9.1%.

The pulse generator implants increased from 7,640 in 2009 to 22,960 in 2018, an increase of 201%, with an annual increase of 13%. In addition, percutaneous placement with pulse generator implants increased from 4,080 in 2009 to 14,316 in 2018, a 252% increase, or 15% annual increase. In contrast, implantation of neurostimulator electrodes with paddle leads with laminectomy and placement of spinal pulse generator increased from 3,560 in 2009 to 8,600 in 2018, a 142% increase or an annual increase of 10.3%.

Analysis of expenditures showed total inflation-adjusted expenditures increased from $292,153,701 in 2009 to $1,142,434,137 in 2018, a 291% increase from 2009 to 2018 and 16.4% annual increase. These expenditures were 125% higher than facet joint interventions and 138% higher than epidural interventions in 2018. In contrast, these expenditures were 55% below the expenditures of facet joint interventions and 66% lower than epidural injections in 2009.

Trial to implant ratio improved from 42.5% in 2009 to 63.6% in 2018. An overwhelming majority of trials (90%) were performed by nonsurgical physicians, whereas, 56% of implants were performed by non-surgeons.

LIMITATIONS: This assessment includes only FFS Medicare population, thus eliminating approximately 30% of the population with Medicare Advantage plans. In addition, this study has not taken into consideration various revisions not included in 3 specific codes.

CONCLUSIONS: The analysis of spinal cord stimulators in the FFS Medicare population from 2009 to 2018 showed explosive increases of trials, implants and overall costs.

KEY WORDS: Chronic pain, spinal pain, spinal cord stimulation, spinal cord stimulation trial, pulse generator implant, paddle leads with laminectomy, utilization trends of expenditures