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Study Design. Retrospective cohort study of a nationwide database.

Objective. The primary objective was to summarize the use of surgical methods for lumbar herniated intervertebral disc disease (HIVD) at two different time periods under the national health insurance system. The secondary objective was to perform a cost-effectiveness analysis by utilizing incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER).

Summary of Background Data. The selection of surgical method for HIVD may or may not be consistent with cost effectiveness under national health insurance system, but this issue has rarely been analyzed.

Methods. The data of all patients who underwent surgeries for HIVD in 2003 (n = 17,997) and 2008 (n = 38,264) were retrieved. The surgical methods included open discectomy (OD), fusion surgery, laminectomy, and percutaneous endoscopic lumbar discectomy (PELD). The hospitals were classified as tertiary-referral hospitals (>=300 beds), medium-sized hospitals (30-300 beds), or clinics (<30 beds). ICER showed the difference in the mean total cost per 1% decrease in the reoperation probability among surgical methods. The total cost included the costs of the index surgery and the reoperation.

Results. In 2008, the number of surgeries increased by 2.13-fold. The number of hospitals increased by 34.75% (731 in 2003 and 985 in 2008). The proportion of medium-sized hospitals increased from 62.79% to 70.86%, but the proportion of surgeries performed at those hospitals increased from 61.31% to 85.08%. The probability of reoperation was highest after laminectomy (10.77%), followed by OD (10.50%), PELD (9.20%), and fusion surgery (7.56%). The ICERs indicated that PELD was a cost-effective surgical method. The proportion of OD increased from 71.21% to 84.12%, but that of PELD decreased from 16.68% to 4.57%.

Conclusion. The choice of surgical method might not always be consistent with cost-effectiveness strategies, and a high proportion of medium-sized hospitals may be responsible for this change.

Level of Evidence: 4

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