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Eight out of ten back surgeries are not medically necessary


Unnecessary interventions: Most of the back surgeries in Germany are superfluous

A current evaluation has shown that eight out of ten back surgeries performed in Germany are unnecessary. According to experts, the figures show that the scalpel is often used too quickly in German clinics.

Conservative therapies for back complaints are often sufficient

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints in Germany. Those affected are usually advised not to take excessive care of their symptoms, but rather to strengthen their backs with exercise. But although conservative therapies for back pain are often sufficient, according to experts, and an operation is rarely useful, more and more patients with such complaints are coming to the hospital in Germany and undergoing surgery. Most of these interventions are however superfluous.

The scalpel is often used too quickly

As an evaluation of a special second opinion offer from the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) shows, eight out of ten back surgeries are unnecessary.

With this offer, patients can have the need for spinal surgery checked in special pain centers.

According to the information, 79 percent of the participants received the recommendation to be treated conservatively - for example with physiotherapy - and managed permanently without surgery.

"The numbers show that doctors in Germany often reach for the scalpel too quickly," said Klaus Rupp, head of TK supply management, according to a message.

"Of course there are cases in which an operation is the method of choice, but the decision for such a step should be carefully considered and critically examined," said the expert.

Second medical opinion

With the TK project "Second opinion before spinal surgery", insured persons can obtain a professional second medical opinion from an interdisciplinary team of specialists free of charge before a planned intervention.

According to the information, the patients are given an appointment within two days if necessary and can have their surgical recommendation checked in one of the 30 pain centers nationwide.

The treatment team consists of a pain therapist, a physiotherapist and a psychotherapist. The experts examine the patient and advise them together on how best to treat them.

Most of the patients can permanently do without an operation

According to the TK, the pain team confirmed the need for surgery in the years 2010 to 2016 in only ten percent of the 2,400 participants.

In 90 percent of the cases, the pain center specialists advised against the operation and recommended conservative treatment.

"In some cases, however, the level of suffering is so great that the patients decide to have an operation at some point," explained Rupp.

“79 percent of the patients were able to permanently do without an operation. It is an impressive success. With the second opinion program, we want to give our insureds more security when making a decision for or against an operation. ”

More absenteeism due to back problems

Lower back pain is common in Germany. This is also reflected in the absenteeism of the employees.

The TK Health Report 2018 showed that just over every eleventh day of sick leave is due to back pain (8.8 percent). In 2017, every employee was missing an average of 1.3 days due to the diagnosis “back”.

Almost one in three adults stated in a representative opinion poll for the 2016 TK movement study that they had constant or frequent back problems. Every now and then about a third have problems with the cross.

Younger people are also affected. 40 percent of 19- to 39-year-olds stated that they suffer from musculoskeletal complaints frequently or permanently. To prevent painful problems with your back, exercise helps above all.

The TK movement study showed that one in four anti-athletes is constantly suffering from back pain. For casual athletes with at least one hour of sport a week, it is only 15 percent. (ad)

Author and source information


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