Are Priorities Mixed Up?
In the following study: The Incidence of Scoliosis in the State of Delaware doctors examined 50,000 mini x-rays taken in the State of Delaware in 1953 during a survey for pulmonary tuberculosis in people over the age of 14. To my knowledge, this is the only study of its kind showing the frequency with which scoliosis is found in the general population. It was, in my opinion, a very well conducted study to establish the prevalence of scoliosis in society, because doctors looked at x-rays to determine evidence of scoliosis and did not rely on clinical examinations where scoliosis can be missed or go undetected.
19 per 1000 persons had scoliosis --- mild, moderate and severe. Mild curves being defined as curves between 10 -19 degrees, moderate as 20 -29 degrees and severe curves were 30 degrees or more.
If we extrapolate the number to the entire U.S. population:
19 x 305,529 (population of the U.S in 2009 divided by 1000) = 5,805,051people with scoliosis in the U.S.
5 per 1000 had moderate to severe curves -- Assuming that 5 per 1000 progress to surgery because doctors in the U.S. are reluctant to treat until curves are already in the advanced stages:
5 x 305,529 = 1,527,645 people requiring spinal fusion surgery
Total number of people requiring surgery @ $100,000 cost per surgery:
1,527,645 x $100,000 = $152,764,500,000
That's 153 billion dollars in spinal fusions!!!This figure does not include revision surgeries, additional surgical cost overruns, costs of lost productivity due to back pain and surgeries, reduced GNP for the entire U.S. (decrease in U.S. competitiveness in the global market), lower taxes collected by local and federal governments, complications from surgeries, reliance on prescription medications, emotional strain on family and loved ones, visits to pain doctors and general practitioners, depression, and poor quality of life etc etc etc!! And how does one measure quality of life?? Can one measure quality of life?
~ For things are much more convoluted than
anyone may have thought! ~
The suggestion by some that treating growing children diagnosed with scoliosis in the early stages with non-operative measures (especially children in the infantile and juvenile age group who have the greatest likelihood of progression to severe deformity) as a financial burden to society or assertions that insurance premiums will skyrocket as a result of non-operative measures -- is bewildering! Preventative medicine should never be regarded as a bad thing! Granted early treatment may not catch all the curves because some curves are caught too late, but at least it's a start -- in the right direction!
Correcting Scoliosis during the AIS
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