Vertebroplasty in the United States: Guidance method and provider distribution, 2001-2003

William B. Morrison, Laurence Parker, Andrea J. Frangos, John A. Carrino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To use the nationwide Medicare database to retrospectively evaluate the provider distribution for vertebroplasty, as well as the guidance method used in the United States. Materials and Methods: Use of the Medicare database was exempt from Institutional Review Board review and informed consent; regarding HIPAA compliance, the Medicare database lacks unique patient identifiers. Using the 2001, 2002, and 2003 United States Medicare part B claims database, the authors studied CPT-4 (Current Procedural Terminology, fourth edition) procedure codes used for vertebroplasty procedures, including thoracic and lumbar vertebroplasty (22520 and 22521, respectively), treatment of additional levels (22522), and method of radiologic guidance (fluoroscopy, 76012: CT, 76013). For each of these codes, volume and physician specialty participation were tabulated. Results: In 2001, 14 152 vertebroplasty procedures were reimbursed through Medicare. In 2003, the volume increased to 24 558 (+73.5%). In 2001 radiologists performed the majority (9864, 69.7%) of these procedures. The minority were performed by other specialists, mainly orthopedic surgeons (1792, 12.7%), neurosurgeons (1037, 7.3%) and anesthesiologists (736, 5.2%). In 2003, radiologists performed 86.8% more vertebroplasties than in 2001, and participation increased to 75.0% of the total. Radiologists had the greatest increase of all specialties from 2001 to 2003 (+86.8% vs: orthopedic surgery, +58.3%; neurosurgery, +55.7%; other, +46.6%: physiatry, +32.1%; neurology, +15.5%; anesthesiology, -11.8%). From 2001 to 2003, the number of additional levels treated by each of the three highest-volume specialties decreased (radiology, 23.0% to 20.8%; orthopedic surgery, 36.3% to 27.5%; neurosurgery, 28.2% to 27.0%). As a guidance method, fluoroscopy is used almost exclusively (98.7% in 2003). Conclusion: Radiologists performed the majority of Medicare-reimbursed vertebroplasty procedures in the United States in 2001-2003. Fluoroscopy is nearly universal as a guidance method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-170
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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