Gender differences in use of prolonged non-operative therapies prior to index ACDF surgery

Mark A. Davison, Daniel T. Lilly, Jessica Moreno, Carlos Bagley, Owoicho Adogwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Prior to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery, patients suffering from cervical stenosis traditionally trial non-operative treatments for pain management. There is a paucity of data evaluating gender disparities in the prolonged utilization of conservative therapy prior to ACDF surgery. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess for gender-based differences in the utilization and cost of maximal non-operative therapy (MNT) for cervical stenosis prior to ACDF surgery. Medical records from patients with symptomatic cervical stenosis undergoing 1, 2, or 3-level index ACDF procedures between 2007 and 2016 were gathered from an insurance database consisting of 20.9 million covered lives. The utilization of MNTs within 5 years prior to index ACDF surgery was assessed. A total of 2254 patients (females: 53.1%) underwent an index ACDF surgery. There were a significantly greater percentage of female patients that utilized NSAIDs (p < 0.0001), opioids (p = 0.0019), muscle relaxants (p < 0.0001), cervical epidural steroid injections (p = 0.0428), and physical therapy/occupational therapy treatments (p < 0.0001). The total direct cost associated with all MNT prior to index ACDF was $4,833,384. On average, $2028.01 was spent per male patient while $2247.29 was spent per female patient. When normalized by number of pills billed per patient utilizing therapy, female patients utilized more NSAIDs (males: 591.8 pills, females: 669.3 pills), opioids (male: 1342.0 pills, female: 1650.1 pills), and muscle relaxants (males: 823.7 pills, females: 1211.1 pills). The results suggest that there may be gender differences in the utilization of non-operative therapies for symptomatic cervical stenosis prior to ACDF surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-235
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • ACDF
  • Cervical stenosis
  • Gender differences
  • Healthcare utilization
  • Non-operative therapy
  • Opioid analgesics
  • Spinal fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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