Doctors Getting Rich Off of Fusion Surgery Debunked by Studies

Fusion surgery, which screws vertebrae together, is intended to limit painful spine movements. Spine surgeons have prospered from this very expensive procedure. But studies have found it to be no better for common back pain than physical therapy -- and it's a good deal more dangerous.

The number of fusions at U.S. hospitals doubled to 413,000 between 2002 and 2008. But the possibility that many of these and other surgeries are needless has gotten little attention in the debate over U.S. health care costs.

According to Bloomberg:

"Unnecessary surgeries cost at least $150 billion a year ... Fusion has helped spine surgeons become the best paid doctors in the U.S. Their average annual salary is $806,000, more than three times the earnings of a pediatrician".

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