Purpose: To evaluate spinal injection procedures for trends in volume, reimbursement, and physician specialty participation.
Materials and methods: By using the 1993, 1996, 1998, and 1999 Medicare Part B claims database, we studied Current Procedural Terminology revision 4 codes used for percutaneous spinal injection procedures, including cervical and lumbar discography, disk aspiration and/or injection, facet and/or perifacet joint injection, and epidural steroid injection. For each of these procedures, volume, reimbursement, and physician specialty participation (categorized as radiology, anesthesiology, surgery, physiatry, and other specialties) for each year were recorded.
Results: Despite an overall increase in spinal injection procedure volume and reimbursement from 1993 to 1999, nonradiologists performed most of these procedures. Epidural steroid and facet joint injections had the highest volume and reimbursement during this time period and were performed almost exclusively by nonradiologists (predominantly anesthesiologists). Radiologists performed more discography procedures than did other specialists in 1993, but participation decreased each year, while anesthesiologist participation increased; as of 1999, anesthesiologists performed more discography procedures than did radiologists. Although radiologists performed more disk aspiration procedures than did other specialists, procedure volume remained low during the period studied.
Conclusion: Spinal injection volume and reimbursement have increased substantially in the Medicare population from 1993 to 1999. During this interval, radiologist participation has decreased. Nonradiologists perform most spinal injection procedures.