Study: Riskier surgeries for back pain raise costs

CHICAGO (AP) - A new study suggests a risky type of back surgery is on the rise in older patients - and many of the surgeries are unnecessary. The study in Medicare patients also finds the riskiest procedures are driving up costs.

The patients in the study had stenosis in their lower backs, a common painful condition caused by aging and arthritis. Researchers found that when doctors used complex spinal fusion, the risk for complications was much higher than if a simpler procedure was used.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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