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Lumbar Disc Surgery Without Fusion
Lumbar disc surgery without fusion (using surgery to remove a small part of the spinal disc that is pressing on a nerve in the back causing pain in the leg) is shown on the following chart. Lumbar disc surgery is used only as a last resort (unless there is ongoing nerve damage) for unresolved low back pain. Because guidelines for treatment are clear, we expect very little variation across regions. Because a great deal of variation indicates different decision processes, when we see a great deal of variation it is a cause for concern. If you see a great deal of variation the Maine Quality Forum recommends that you receive your second opinion from a different provider with a different approach.
If every where in Maine were the same the bars would all be short. We expect that things will be somewhat different in one town when compared to the rest of the state. Bars to the left indicate less often than expected, bars to the right indicate more often than expected.
When serious nerve damage causing serious weakness or numbness does not occur, a patient can wait for the body to cure itself. For some people the pain is too great and the time is too long to wait.
We do not think that people in Pittsfield are tougher than the people in Presque Isle. We do believe that both communities have the same access to appropriate care.
The difference then, between Pittsfield where surgery is not used as much as average from Presque Isle where surgery is used more than average, likely is due to treating surgeon’s preference.
Each patient needs to have all the information possible before deciding on a specific treatment.
Lumbar disc surgery without fusion by healthcare service area (HSAs) and by Spine Service Areas are shown in the charts below.