Six Common Surgeries Often Done Unnecessarily

USA Today is reporting that there are at least six surgeries commonly done in this country that often do not need to be done.  Using federal data and independent studies, the newspaper concluded there are six surgeries that carry significant risks of being done without medical necessity. 

The six common procedures are: (1) cardiac angioplasty, stents; (2) cardiac pacemakers; (3) back surgery, spinal fusion; (4) hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus); (5) knee and hip replacement; and (6) Cesarean section.

For example, the article cites a 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that looked at angioplasty procedures, which often includes insertion of stents.  In cases where patients were not suffering acute heart attack symptoms, 12% of all angioplasty procedures were found to lack medical necessity.

Of course, the procedure has risks, including, in two to six percent of patients, heart attack, stroke or death.

Another 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed records for 112,000 patients who had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a pacemaker-like device that corrects heartbeat irregularities. In 22.5% of the cases, researchers found no medical evidence to support the installation.

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