Virginia Finance

Apr 12 2018

Cost of Laser Spine Surgery – Consumer Information

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Laser Spine Surgery Cost

Unlike traditional spine surgery, in which doctors might rely on a high-speed drill or electrocautery [1 ] to repair or remove damaged areas, in laser spine surgery, a focused light beam is used to cut through tissue.

  • Traditional spine surgery can cost from $6,000-$70,000, depending on the specific procedure, the type and complexity of the condition being treated, and the region in which it is performed. For example, at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center [2 ] in Lincoln, NE, average spinal surgery costs are $39,871. However, because of the technology it requires, laser spine surgery can result in higher starting costs, and typically costs $30,000-$90,000 or more. What’s more, unlike traditional spine surgery, which is typically covered by health insurance, patients must often pay most of the cost themselves.
  • According to the Central Texas Spine Institute [3 ] in Austin, TX, many health care providers consider laser spine surgery experimental and do not cover it. Others may cover only part of the procedure. In one online forum [4 ]. one laser spine surgery patient complained that Aetna would not cover any portion of the $70,000 in total costs for the procedure. A patient in another forum said that his health care provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, would only pay about $10,000 of a $30,000 charge.

Related articles: Back Surgery. Back Brace. Spinal Traction. Health Insurance

What should be included:

  • The Mayo Clinic advises patients not to proceed with any type of spine treatment until they first see a medical spine specialist who can evaluate symptoms and diagnose their cause.
  • Laser spine surgery is most often performed in outpatient facilities or specialized centers. According to Advanced Spine Surgery Center in Union, N.J. the procedure involves inserting an endoscope, a thin tube with a micro video camera attached to it, through an incision less than an inch in size near the affected area. A laser is then used to perform the surgery to repair or remove the affected tissue. General anesthesia is usually unnecessary.
  • Proponents [5 ] of the procedure note that it is minimally invasive, allows surgeons to precisely target areas of the spine, and brings a quick recovery time, which may be as little as a few days to week.

Additional costs:

  • Post-operative check-ups may be required.
  • Following surgery, some patients may need to use over-the-counter pain relievers [6 ] such as buprofen, which can cost about $5 -$25, depending on the quantity and whether the patient buys a name brand or its generic equivalent.


  • Some laser surgery centers offer to connect out-of-town patients with discounted travel and accommodation if needed.

Shopping for laser spine surgery:

  • Though the surgery has gained in popularity, according to the Mayo Clinic, its effectiveness has never been studied in a controlled clinical trial and most neurosurgeons don’t use the procedure since there are no clear benefits over more well-established techniques. There has been some controversy [7 ] surrounding laser spine surgery centers, with more than a dozen malpractice suits filed against a leading purveyor, the Tampa, FL-based Laser Spine Institute, since 2009.
  • offers a checklist of questions patients considering the procedure should ask doctors.

Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.

Medical Center: Greenville Medical Center

I was in an accident. I am also a medical professional with over 20 yr.’s experience, as an Occupational Therapist, both treating rehab patients, and created a 21-inpatient department for a major hospital in Bucks County, PA. I treated people like I am now. I also have a Degenerative Avascular Necrosis of the Left hip. I have MRI’s. and have seen people at Greenville, SC. Medical Center who say it is small. I don’t believe a necrosis is small. It will grow. Necrosis always do, and destroy my left hip given time. I don’t believe that necrosis don’t just go away. They eat away your insides. That is why they are called NECROSIS. I need help. I am in Greenwood, SC. I have a son age 21 who suffers with me. I also have fractures at at L3 L4, a building disc in the thoracic. I have not taken any pain killers, as I am allergic. and have a reaction to pain meds. I live in PAIN.
Please be honest and tell me the truth. Is there anything you can do to help me.

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