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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > General Surgery & Neurosurgery > Back Surgery

Back Surgery Cost


How Much Does Back Surgery Cost?

 
low costWith Insurance: $200-$2,000 up to Out-Of-Pocket Maximumaverage costWithout Insurance: Laminectomy $50,000-$150,000high costWithout Insurance: Spinal Fusion $80,000-$150,000
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Back surgery, which is needed in only a small percentage of back pain cases, usually is recommended to be considered only when non-surgical treatments have failed to relieve symptoms and when the problem is caused by a pinched nerve, the spinal cord being compressed or excess movement between bones.

Typical costs:

  • For patients not covered by health insurance, a laminectomy, typically used to treat spinal stenosis[1] , a narrowing of the spine that occurs mostly in people over 50, typically costs $50,000 to $90,000.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, spinal fusion, typically used to treat conditions such as a slipped vertebra, fractured vertebra or other spinal instability, typically costs $80,000 to $150,000 or more; a surgery in which high-end titanium implants are used instead typically will fall on the higher end.
  • Back surgery is covered by most health insurance plans if ordered by a doctor. According to eSpine.com[2] , the website of a Los Angeles back surgeon, most insurance plans will cover spinal surgery. Medicare generally covers back surgery.
  • For patients covered by insurance, assuming the deductible has been met, typical out-of-pocket costs would consist of coinsurance of between 10 and 40 percent of the procedure, for a total of $200 to $2,000 or more, up to the yearly out-of-pocket maximum. Patients on a forum at Spine-Health.com[3] discuss out-of-pocket costs.
Related articles: Chiropractor, Herniated Disc Surgery, Spinal Decompression, Hip Replacement

What should be included:
  • Back surgery is used to correct a physical deformity -- either to take pressure off a nerve root or the spinal cord, to stabilize an unstable part of that back that is causing pain, or to fix a deformity such as scoliosos. Two of the most common back surgeries are lumbar laminectomy and lumbar spinal fusion.
  • The Mayo Clinic provides an overview of a laminectomy[4] and the North American Spine Society describes spinal fusion[5] .
Additional costs:
  • Most patients require two to six weeks of recovery time. A back brace, which sometimes is required, can cost $200 or more.
  • Physical therapy at $50 to $100 or more per session can add $1,000 or more to the cost.
  • Pain medication probably will be prescribed during recovery, and sometimes equipment such as a walker, which can cost $50 to $100 or more, is needed.
Discounts:
  • Some providers offer discounts to self-paying patients who agree to prepay or pay within a certain time period.
  • Also, Spine-Health.com[6] has a discussion about obtaining discounted surgery through a teaching hospital.
Shopping for back surgery:
  • It is important to consult with a specialist to determine whether surgery is the right decision; a doctor might recommend surgery if there are signs of nerve damage, such as pain, numbness or weakness in the arms and legs or loss of bowel or bladder control. The Mayo Clinic[7] offers a guide on deciding whether to have back surgery.
  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons[8] offers a surgeon locator by zip code. Or, American Board of Neurological Surgery[9] offers a neurosurgeon locator.
  • SpineUniverse.com, an informational site run by orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons, offers a discussion on choosing[10] between an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon, as well as a list of questions to ask[11] your doctor if you are considering back surgery.
  • Risks of back surgery include the possibility that the surgery will not correct the problem; a chance of spinal fluid leaks, bleeding or infection, or in rare cases, paralysis or death.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spinalstenosis.html
  2.  www.espine.com/back-faq.htm#insurance
  3.  www.spine-health.com/forum/treatment/back-surgery-and-neck-surgery/how-expensive-does-i...
  4.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/laminectomy/MY00674
  5.  www.knowyourback.org/Pages/Treatments/SurgicalOptions/SpinalFusion.aspx
  6.  www.spine-health.com/forum/mind-body-and-spirit/health-insurance-issues/no-health-insur...
  7.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/back-surgery/HQ00305
  8.  www7.aaos.org/member/directory/directory.aspx
  9.  www.abns.org/diplomates/default.aspx
  10.  www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/surgery/neurosurgeon-or-orthopedic-surgeon-does-matter
  11.  www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/surgery/spine-surgery-questions-ask-your-doctor
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