Actual Cost of Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Pain

For over 30 years now, doctors have used spinal cord stimulation (SCS), also called neurostimulation, to help relieve chronic neuropathic (nerve) pain. A stimulator is implanted into the patient's body, which then sends out impulses to interrupt the pain signals and prevent them from reaching the brain.

The treatment doesn't eliminate pain. The electrical impulses from the stimulator override the pain messages so the person doesn't feel the pain so acutely or so intensely. In essence, the stimulator masks the pain. SCS is generally only used if nothing else in treatment seems to be working. It must be done on a trial basis first before the stimulator is permanently implanted.

The success of this treatment has increased its use for chronic pain patients in the United States and Canada. But before we go too far with this treatment tool, it's important to look at the total cost (not just the initial implantation cost). Third party payers such as private insurance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield (health maintenance plan), and Medicare have asked physicians to show that the benefit of this treatment is worth the cost.

That's a reasonable request considering the basic cost of the unit and implantation ranges from $21,595 to $57,800 (depending on who is paying for it). That figure does include the preoperative evaluation and the trial before permanent implantation. But what this study shows for the first time are the added costs of maintenance, upkeep, and complications.

The cost of uncomplicated annual care to maintain the system starts at $3500 in Canada, goes to $5000 under Medicare, and tops at $7277 for Blue Cross/Blue Shield patients. Each time a new patient receives a spinal cord stimulator, the total cost for actively managed patients is increased.

The annual maintenance costs cover things like hardware, professional fees (doctors, nurses), X-rays or other advanced imaging studies, pulse generator replacement, and any costs associated with hospitalization for complications. That doesn't include the cost of medications used for drug therapy. Different complications have different average costs associated with them. Obviously replacing the batteries is much less costly than a hospitalization for infection or implant failure.

These costs do not reflect out-of-pocket money spent by patients pursuing this type of treatment. Since spinal cord stimulation is not readily available at every hospital, it is necessary for some patients to travel far distances to benefit from this specialized pain control. Travel costs, lodging, and meals are not included in these figures.

The are some things that can be done to bring the costs down. One is to develop a rechargeable system that lasts for more than a few years. Some companies manufacturing these devices are already promising a battery life of 10 to 25 years. The second is to recognize that different manufacturers charge different selling prices to different geographical markets. And the third is to study which models function without breaking down and use those instead of poorly designed, short-lasting units.

The authors present a formula that can be used when first calculating the cost of a spinal cord implant. A second equation calculates the add-on costs of annual maintenance and complications. It turns out that the added costs amount to about 18 per cent of the initial implantation cost. Health care centers can use this information when planning budgets and cost-versus-benefit ratios.

Krishna Kumar, MB, MS, FRCSC, and Sharon Bishop, BNurs, MHlthSci. Financial Impact of Spinal Cord Stimulation on the Healthcare Budget: A Comparative Analysis of Costs in Canada and the United States. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. June 2009. Vol. 10. No. 6. Pp. 564-573.

 Post to

 Email to a Friend


I am glad I came across your

I am glad I came across your blog today as it will now be part of my daily reading. I think ur blog is great for providing to everybody something unique to know.The information you provide is really helpful,wholesale nike shoes. Well I hope everybody will be inspire to see your this effort and will be appreciate also &.check this too:nike shoes wholesale

Took me time to read all the

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenter here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!
adult sex toys

Wonderful article, thanks

Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post. Southeast Austin Foreclosures Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here.

Thanks for the bunch of good

Thanks for the bunch of good resourceful site.I really appreciate your blog,you have done the great job.
marquez vs pacquiao | home improvement ideas

It is amazing to find that

It is amazing to find that so many advanced treatment methods have come into the medical field. Technology has truly helping us stay healthy in different ways. Even now you can purchase medication online. But it is important to buy it from reputable online supplier.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

*Disclaimer:*The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.

All content provided by eORTHOPOD® is a registered trademark of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C.. Content is the sole property of Medical Multimedia Group, LLC and used herein by permission.

Back to top

MySpace Tracker