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      Retrospective cohort study of usage patterns of epidural injections for spinal pain in the US fee-for-service Medicare population from 2000 to 2014

      1 , 2 , 1 , 3 , 4

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          To assess the usage patterns of epidural injections for chronic spinal pain in the fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare population from 2000 to 2014 in the USA.


          A retrospective cohort.


          The descriptive analysis of the administrative database from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician/Supplier Procedure Summary (PSPS) master data from 2000 to 2014 was performed. The guidance from Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) was applied. Analysis included multiple variables based on the procedures, specialties and geography.


          Overall epidural injections increased 99% per 100 000 Medicare beneficiaries with an annual increase of 5% from 2000 to 2014. Lumbar interlaminar and caudal epidural injections constituted 36.2% of all epidural injections, with an overall decrease of 2% and an annual decrease of 0.2% per 100 000 Medicare beneficiaries. However, lumbosacral transforaminal epidural injections increased 609% with an annual increase of 15% from 2000 to 2014 per 100 000 Medicare population.


          Usage of epidural injections increased from 2000 to 2014, with a decline thereafter. However, an escalating growth has been seen for lumbosacral transforaminal epidural injections despite numerous reports of complications and regulations to curb the usage of transforaminal epidural injections.

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          Most cited references 39

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          The rising prevalence of chronic low back pain.

          National or state-level estimates on trends in the prevalence of chronic low back pain (LBP) are lacking. The objective of this study was to determine whether the prevalence of chronic LBP and the demographic, health-related, and health care-seeking characteristics of individuals with the condition have changed over the last 14 years. A cross-sectional, telephone survey of a representative sample of North Carolina households was conducted in 1992 and repeated in 2006. A total of 4437 households were contacted in 1992 and 5357 households in 2006 to identify noninstitutionalized adults 21 years or older with chronic (>3 months), impairing LBP or neck pain that limits daily activities. These individuals were interviewed in more detail about their health and health care seeking. The prevalence of chronic, impairing LBP rose significantly over the 14-year interval, from 3.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.4%-4.4%) in 1992 to 10.2% (95% CI, 9.3%-11.0%) in 2006. Increases were seen for all adult age strata, in men and women, and in white and black races. Symptom severity and general health were similar for both years. The proportion of individuals who sought care from a health care provider in the past year increased from 73.1% (95% CI, 65.2%-79.8%) to 84.0% (95% CI, 80.8%-86.8%), while the mean number of visits to all health care providers were similar (19.5 [1992] vs 19.4 [2006]). The prevalence of chronic, impairing LBP has risen significantly in North Carolina, with continuing high levels of disability and health care use. A substantial portion of the rise in LBP care costs over the past 2 decades may be related to this rising prevalence.
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            An update of comprehensive evidence-based guidelines for interventional techniques in chronic spinal pain. Part II: guidance and recommendations.

            To develop evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for interventional techniques in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic spinal pain. Systematic assessment of the literature. I. Lumbar Spine • The evidence for accuracy of diagnostic selective nerve root blocks is limited; whereas for lumbar provocation discography, it is fair. • The evidence for diagnostic lumbar facet joint nerve blocks and diagnostic sacroiliac intraarticular injections is good with 75% to 100% pain relief as criterion standard with controlled local anesthetic or placebo blocks. • The evidence is good in managing disc herniation or radiculitis for caudal, interlaminar, and transforaminal epidural injections; fair for axial or discogenic pain without disc herniation, radiculitis or facet joint pain with caudal, and interlaminar epidural injections, and limited for transforaminal epidural injections; fair for spinal stenosis with caudal, interlaminar, and transforaminal epidural injections; and fair for post surgery syndrome with caudal epidural injections and limited with transforaminal epidural injections. • The evidence for therapeutic facet joint interventions is good for conventional radiofrequency, limited for pulsed radiofrequency, fair to good for lumbar facet joint nerve blocks, and limited for intraarticular injections. • For sacroiliac joint interventions, the evidence for cooled radiofrequency neurotomy is fair; limited for intraarticular injections and periarticular injections; and limited for both pulsed radiofrequency and conventional radiofrequency neurotomy. • For lumbar percutaneous adhesiolysis, the evidence is fair in managing chronic low back and lower extremity pain secondary to post surgery syndrome and spinal stenosis. • For intradiscal procedures, the evidence for intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) and biaculoplasty is limited to fair and is limited for discTRODE. • For percutaneous disc decompression, the evidence is limited for automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy (APLD), percutaneous lumbar laser disc decompression, and Dekompressor; and limited to fair for nucleoplasty for which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a noncoverage decision. II. Cervical Spine • The evidence for cervical provocation discography is limited; whereas the evidence for diagnostic cervical facet joint nerve blocks is good with a criterion standard of 75% or greater relief with controlled diagnostic blocks. • The evidence is good for cervical interlaminar epidural injections for cervical disc herniation or radiculitis; fair for axial or discogenic pain, spinal stenosis, and post cervical surgery syndrome. • The evidence for therapeutic cervical facet joint interventions is fair for conventional cervical radiofrequency neurotomy and cervical medial branch blocks, and limited for cervical intraarticular injections. III. Thoracic Spine • The evidence is limited for thoracic provocation discography and is good for diagnostic accuracy of thoracic facet joint nerve blocks with a criterion standard of at least 75% pain relief with controlled diagnostic blocks. • The evidence is fair for thoracic epidural injections in managing thoracic pain. • The evidence for therapeutic thoracic facet joint nerve blocks is fair, limited for radiofrequency neurotomy, and not available for thoracic intraarticular injections. IV. Implantables • The evidence is fair for spinal cord stimulation (SCS) in managing patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) and limited for implantable intrathecal drug administration systems. V. ANTICOAGULATION • There is good evidence for risk of thromboembolic phenomenon in patients with antithrombotic therapy if discontinued, spontaneous epidural hematomas with or without traumatic injury in patients with or without anticoagulant therapy to discontinue or normalize INR with warfarin therapy, and the lack of necessity of discontinuation of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including low dose aspirin prior to performing interventional techniques. • There is fair evidence with excessive bleeding, including epidural hematoma formation with interventional techniques when antithrombotic therapy is continued, the risk of higher thromboembolic phenomenon than epidural hematomas with discontinuation of antiplatelet therapy prior to interventional techniques and to continue phosphodiesterase inhibitors (dipyridamole, cilostazol, and Aggrenox). • There is limited evidence to discontinue antiplatelet therapy with platelet aggregation inhibitors to avoid bleeding and epidural hematomas and/or to continue antiplatelet therapy (clopidogrel, ticlopidine, prasugrel) during interventional techniques to avoid cerebrovascular and cardiovascular thromboembolic fatalities. • There is limited evidence in reference to newer antithrombotic agents dabigatran (Pradaxa) and rivaroxan (Xarelto) to discontinue to avoid bleeding and epidural hematomas and are continued during interventional techniques to avoid cerebrovascular and cardiovascular thromboembolic events. Evidence is fair to good for 62% of diagnostic and 52% of therapeutic interventions assessed. The authors are solely responsible for the content of this article. No statement on this article should be construed as an official position of ASIPP. The guidelines do not represent "standard of care."
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              Trends in health care expenditures, utilization, and health status among US adults with spine problems, 1997-2006.

              Analysis of nationally representative survey data for spine-related health care expenditures, utilization and self-reported health status. To study trends from 1997 to 2006 in per-user expenditures for spine-related inpatient, outpatient, pharmacy, and emergency services; and to compare these trends to changes in health status. Although prior work has shown overall spine-related expenditures accounted for $86 billion in 2005, increasing 65% since 1997, the study did not report per-user expenditures. Understanding population-level per-user expenditure for specific services relative to changes in the health status may help assess the value of these services. We analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a multistage survey sample designed to produce unbiased national estimates of health care utilization and expenditure. Spine-related hospitalizations, outpatient visits, prescription medications and emergency department visits were identified using ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes. Regression analyses controlling for age, sex, comorbidity, and time (years) were used to examine trends from 1997 to 2006 in inflation-adjusted per-user expenditures, and utilization, and self-reported health status. An average of 1774 respondents with spine problems was surveyed per year; the proportion suggested an increase in the number of people who sought treatment for spine problems in the United States from 14.8 million in 1997 to 21.9 million in 2006. From 1997 to 2006, the mean adjusted per-user expenditures were the largest component of increasing total costs for inpatient hospitalizations, prescription medications, andemergency department visits, increasing 37% (from $13,040 in 1997 to $17,909 in 2006), 139% (from $166 to $397), and 84% (from $81 to $149), respectively. A 49% increase in the number of patients seeking spine-related care (from 12.2 million in 1997 to 18.2 million in 2006) was the largest contributing factor to increased outpatient expenditures. Population measures of mental health and work, social, and physical limitations worsened over time among people with spine problems. Expenditure increases for spine-related inpatient, prescription, and emergency services were primarily the result of increasing per-user expenditures, while those related to outpatient visits were primarily due to an increase in the number of users of ambulatory services.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                12 December 2016
                : 6
                : 12
                [1 ]Pain Management Center of Paducah , Paducah, Kentucky, USA
                [2 ]Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, University of Louisville , Louisville, Kentucky, USA
                [3 ]Massachusetts General Hospital , Boston, Massachusetts, USA
                [4 ]Harvard Medical School , Boston, Massachusetts, USA
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Laxmaiah Manchikanti; drlm@ 123456thepainmd.com
                Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/

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