How Much Does Herniated Disc Surgery Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 7, 2018

A spinal disc herniation, also known as a “slipped disc,” is a medical condition that affects the spine, causing a tear in the outer, fibrous ring.  This tear will result in pain due to a chemical release.

While many herniated discs can heal on its own, some situations may require a special type of surgery.  This surgery is usually the last resort that a doctor will try since many other alternatives are available, such as medication, which tends to work in over 70% of cases.  Most of the time, as long as you wait at least six months, a doctor will consider this option.

Common signs of a herniated disc include pain felt alongside the back, pain when one coughs, muscle weakness, and spasms.

The cost of this surgery will depend upon the cost of living in your area, the surgeon performing the procedure, the hospital, if insurance is involved and the complexity of the surgery.

How much does herniated disc surgery cost?

On average, the surgery for herniated disc surgery can cost anywhere from $15,000 to as much as $35,000 without insurance by the time you factor in the surgeon’s fee, anesthesiologist and hospital fee.

MedpageToday said the average surgery itself would cost $12,754 for patients without complications or about $19,000 if the patient experienced complications.  In this same article, it noted the overall treatment costs, when you factor in the testing and the medication, the average costs can total about $28,000 or so.

Kristin Trapp, an author at HealDove.com, shared a surgical bill with us.  On her bill, once the anesthesia, medical supplies, pharmacy, radiology, surgery, surgeon’s fee and recovery fees were factored in, her total was $19,992.25, a pinch less than $20,000.  This procedure was performed in a Chicago-based hospital.  As she stated, the costs could vary from hospital to hospital and city to city.

If deemed medically necessary, most health insurance policies will cover the procedure, but check with your insurance company to discuss what co-pays and deductibles you will be responsible for as all policies are going to greatly vary.  It is rather safe to say that most of the deductible will be met with a surgery such as this one.

Herniated disc surgery overview

During the microdiscectomy procedure, the surgeon will create a slight incision in the patient’s back, and while doing so, he or she will use a special microscope to remove any of the affected disc material from underneath the nerve root.  Another common procedure, known as a discectomy or an open discectomy, will be a process where a surgeon will remove the entire or portion of the disc, creating a similar incision.  Both procedures will take less than 90 minutes to perform.

What are the extra costs?

The fees noted above may not include the following:  Operating room and recovery room expenses can range from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on how long the rooms were used for.  Anesthesiologist expenses can range from $1,100 to $3,000 depending on the length of the surgery.  Each additional hospital stay can vary from $1,000 to $4,000 per night; again, this will depend on the length, complexity of the surgery as well as the recovery time.  Most of the time, this is considered an outpatient procedure and you won’t need an overnight hospital stay.

Physical therapy will more than likely be required after the surgery is performed, and without insurance, each session can cost $65 to $11.  On average, most patients need up to 10 sessions to feel healthy again.

If the surgery didn’t correct the problem in the first place, which is often in less than five percent of surgeries on record, an additional surgery may be needed.

The necessary medications and a back brace will be prescribed to lessen the pain for the weeks following the surgery.  A neck brace will be required as well.  Typical recovery times can take up to two months.

Tips to know

WebMD says 50 percent of patients who have had a herniated disc will find the problem resolves itself within the first month; however, close to 10 percent may have to resort to surgery if the inflammation doesn’t reduce.

How can I save money?

Avoid surgery if possible.  As time goes on, you may find the problem may resolve itself, and with research, you will find there are many other options for treatment.  This may include waiting it out, considering epidural injections or, as a last resort, consider the surgery.  Always consult with your doctor, as well get other professional opinions, when regarding other methods.

Some hospitals may offer discounts to those who pay in cash up front.


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