Cost analysis of spinal and general anesthesia for the surgical treatment of lumbar spondylosis

Brian P. Walcott, Arjun Khanna, Vijay Yanamadala, Jean Valery Coumans, Robert A. Peterfreund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Lumbar spine surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia, although spinal anesthesia can also be used. Given the prevalence of lumbar spine surgery, small differences in cost between the two anesthetic techniques have the potential to make a large impact on overall healthcare costs. We sought to perform a cost comparison analysis of spinal versus general anesthesia for lumbar spine operations. Following Institutional Review Board approval, a retrospective cohort study was performed from 2009-2012 on consecutive patients undergoing non-instrumented, elective lumbar spine surgery for spondylosis by a single surgeon. Each patient was evaluated for both types of anesthesia, with the decision for anesthetic method being made based on a combination of physical status, anatomical considerations, and ultimately a consensus agreement between patient, surgeon, and anesthesiologist. Patient demographics and clinical characteristics were compared between the two groups. Operating room costs were calculated whilst blinded to clinical outcomes and reported in percentage difference. General anesthesia (n = 319) and spinal anesthesia (n = 81) patients had significantly different median operative times of 175 ± 39.08 and 158 ± 32.75 minutes, respectively (p < 0.001, Mann-Whitney U test). Operating room costs were 10.33% higher for general anesthesia compared to spinal anesthesia (p = 0.003, Mann-Whitney U test). Complications of spinal anesthesia included excessive movement (n = 1), failed spinal attempt (n = 3), intraoperative conversion to general anesthesia (n = 2), and a high spinal level (n = 1). In conclusion, spinal anesthesia can be performed safely in patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery. It has the potential to reduce operative times, costs, and possibly, complications. Further prospective evaluation will help to validate these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-543
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cost
  • Discectomy
  • Herniated disc
  • Laminectomy
  • Lumbar spondylosis
  • Spinal anesthesia
  • Spinal stenosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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