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Data raise overtreatment concerns

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Modesto residents here seeking pain relief from fractured vertebrae underwent two controversial back procedures at double the statewide rate from 2005 to 2010, according to an analysis of state hospital data released earlier this month.

Just a half hour’s drive away, during the same period, Stockton residents underwent the same treatment at a frequency about half the state average, or only one fourth as often as Modestans. And while the number of these procedures around the state has dropped off in recent years, in Modesto use of them has increased. The data place Modesto in the middle of a national debate about the issue of overtreatment.

Stories

Back procedure rates show huge variance in state

Graphic showing the percentage (for select cities) of the California average for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedures.

Controversy rages over effectiveness of back procedures

Should doctors be injecting acrylic cement to fix broken vertebrae? It depends on whom you ask.

High rate of controversial back procedures raises concern

Modesto residents seeking pain relief from fractured vertebrae underwent two controversial back procedures at double the statewide rate between 2005 and 2010, according to an analysis of state hospital data released earlier this week.

Watsonville residents top state for back treatment rate

Between 2005 and 2010, the city of Watsonville had the highest rate of vertebroplasties and kyphoplasties, similar procedures to relieve back pain from fractured vertebrae, of any community in the state.

What is a Vertebroplasty Procedure?

Graphic showing and explaining the two procedures commonly used to relieve back pain from fractured vertebrae.

Authors

Jocelyn Wiener

Jocelyn Wiener is an Oakland-based writer for the Center for Health Reporting.

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