The drastic increase in spinal fusions performed by surgeons in the United States has been attributed to several factors, including economic incentives for providers and relationships with device companies. However, there are several other, more subtle, factors that have contributed to the rise of spinal fusions that surgeons are keenly aware of, even if they aren’t always mentioned in healthcare legislation and policy debates.
“People are living longer and staying active longer,” says Sheeraz Qureshi, MD, MBA, a spine surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “Degeneration of the bones and joints is a normal part of the aging process and this includes degenerative changes of the spine. Often these degenerative changes result in instability or stenosis and can benefit from surgical treatments including fusion.”