Diagnosis-Related Group-Based Payments for Adult Spine Deformity Surgery Significantly Vary across Centers: Results from a Multicenter Prospective Cohort Study.



To investigate the variation in total episode-of-care (EOC) payment and quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gain for complex adult spine deformity surgeries in the United States, adjusting for case type and surgeon preferences.


Patients aged >18 years with adult spine deformity with Medicare Severity-Diagnosis-Related Groups (DRGs) 453-460 and a minimum of 2 years of follow-up from index surgery were included. Index and total payments were calculated using Medicare's Inpatient Prospective Payment System. All costs were adjusted for inflation to 2020 U.S. dollar values. QALYs gained were calculated using baseline, 1-year, and 2-year Short-Form 6D scores. Mixed-effect models were used to estimate the proportion of variation in total EOC payment and QALY gain.


A total of 330/543 patients from 6 sites were included. Mean age was 62.4 ± 11.9 years, 79% were women, and 92% were white. The mean index and total EOC payment were $77,302 and $93,182, respectively. Patients gained on average 0.15 QALY (P < 0.0001) 2 years after surgery. In unadjusted analysis, 39% of the variation in total EOC payment across the 6 centers was attributable to relative weight of DRG and base rate. Adjusting for patient and procedural factors increased the proportion of variation in total EOC payments across the centers to 56%. Less than 2% of the variation in QALY gain was observed across the 6 centers.


Medicare-based payments for complex spine deformity fusions are primarily driven by relative weight of the DRG and the hospital's base rate. Patient and procedural factors are unaccounted for in the DRG-based payments made to the providers.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Yeramaneni, Samrat, Kevin Wang, Jeffrey Gum, Breton Line, Amit Jain, Khaled Kebaish, Christopher Shaffrey, Justin S Smith, et al. (2023). Diagnosis-Related Group-Based Payments for Adult Spine Deformity Surgery Significantly Vary across Centers: Results from a Multicenter Prospective Cohort Study. World neurosurgery, 171. pp. e153–e161. 10.1016/j.wneu.2022.11.107 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27965.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.

Peter Passias

Instructor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.