Impact of COVID-19 pandemic and updated utilization patterns of sacroiliac joint injections from 2000 to 2020 in the Fee-For-Service (FFS) Medicare population
Manchikanti L, Simopoulos TT, Pampati V, et al. Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic and Updated Utilization Patterns of Sacroiliac Joint Injections from 2000 to 2020 in The Fee-For-Service (FFS) Medicare Population. Pain Physician. 2022;25(3):239-250.
Background: Among the multiple causes of low back and lower extremity pain, sacroiliac joint pain has shown to be prevalent in 10% to 25% of patients with persistent axial low back pain without disc herniation, discogenic pain, or radiculitis. Over the years, multiple Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes have evolved with the inclusion of intraarticular injections, nerve blocks, and radiofrequency neurotomy, in addition to percutaneous sacroiliac joint fusions. Previous assessments of utilization patterns of sacroiliac joint interventions only included sacroiliac joint intraarticular injections, since the data was not available prior to the introduction of new codes. A recent assessment revealed an increase of 11.3%, and an annual increase of 1.2% per 100,000 Medicare population from 2009 to 2018, showing a decline in growth patterns. During the past 2 years, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had significant effects on the utilization patterns of sacroiliac joint interventions.
Study design: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and analysis of growth patterns of sacroiliac joint interventions (intraarticular injections, nerve blocks, radiofrequency neurotomy, arthrodesis and fusion) was evaluated from 2010 to 2019 and 2010 to 2020, with a comparative analysis from 2019 to 2020 to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Objectives: To update utilization patterns of sacroiliac joint interventions with assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician/Supplier Procedure Summary (PSPS) Master dataset was utilized in the present analysis.
Results: The results of this evaluation demonstrated a significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with a 19.2% decrease of utilization of sacroiliac joint intraarticular injections from 2019 to 2020. There was a 23.3% increase in sacroiliac joint arthrodesis and a 5.3% decrease for sacroiliac joint fusions with small numbers from 2019 to 2020. However, data was not available for sacroiliac joint nerve blocks and sacroiliac joint radiofrequency neurotomy as these codes were incorporated in 2020. Overall, from 2010 to 2019, sacroiliac joint intraarticular injections showed an annual increase of 0.9% per 100,000 Medicare population. Sacroiliac joint arthrodesis and fusion showed an annual increase from 2010 to 2020 per 100,000 Medicare population of 29% for arthrodesis and 13.3% for fusion.
Limitations: Limitations of this study include a lack of inclusion of Medicare Advantage patients constituting approximately 30% to 40% of the overall Medicare population. As with all claims-based data analyses, this study is retrospective and thus potentially limited by bias. Finally, patients who are non-Medicare are not part of the dataset.
Conclusions: The study shows the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with a significant decrease of intraarticular injections of 19.2% from 2019 to 2020 per 100,000 Medicare population. These decreases of intraarticular injections are accompanied by a 5.3% decrease of fusion, but a 23.3% increase of arthrodesis from 2019 to 2020 per 100,000 Medicare population. Overall, the results showed an annual increase of 0.9% per 100,000 Medicare population for intraarticular injections, a 35.4% annual increase for sacroiliac joint arthrodesis and an increase of 15.5% for sacroiliac joint fusion from 2010 to 2019.