Regional variations in lumbar spine surgery in Finland

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Introduction: The regional variation in spine surgery rates has been shown to be large both within and between countries. This variation has been reported to be less in studies from countries with spine registers. The aim of this study was to describe the regional variation in lumbar spine surgery in Finland. Materials and methods: This is a retrospective register study. Data from the Finnish National Hospital Discharge Register (NHDR) were used to calculate and compare the rates of lumbar disc herniation (LDH), decompression, and fusion surgeries in five University Hospital catchment areas, covering the whole Finnish population, from January 1, 1997, through December 31, 2018. Results: A total of 138,119 lumbar spine operations (including LDH, decompression, and fusion surgery) were performed in Finland between 1997 and 2018. The regional differences in the rate of LDH surgery were over fourfold (18 vs. 85 per 100,000 person years), lumbar decompression surgery over threefold (41 vs. 129 per 100,000 person years), and lumbar fusion surgery over twofold (14 vs. 34 per 100,000 person years) in 2018. The mean age of the patients increased in all regions during the study period. Conclusions: In Finland, the regional variations in spine surgeries were vast. In a country with a publicly funded healthcare system, this finding was surprising. The recently created national spine register may serve to shed more light on the reasons for this regional variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451 - 1458
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery
Issue number3
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Lumbar spine surgery
  • Spine register
  • Surgery rates
  • Variation

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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