Lumbar Spine Fusion: Preparing for the Procedure and Costs

Before a big procedure like a lumbar spine fusion, patients will have a lot of questions about what to expect during the surgery and what the recovery period looks like. But, patients don’t always ask about the cost ahead of time.

A lumbar spine fusion connects two or more back vertebrae to stop any movement between them. This can be done to treat spinal deformities, weakness, or instability – it’s commonly performed after the removal of a herniated disk or as a treatment for severe arthritis. If your doctor has recommended a lumbar spine fusion as part of your treatment for these or other conditions, you’ll want to ask what to expect from the surgery and after you have recovered. You’ll also want to know what costs to expect and reduce the chance of a surprise bill.

On the Wear The Cost website, the lumbar spine fusion “episode of care” includes the total cost of all covered services related to the surgery, whether the service takes place in a hospital or in an outpatient facility. This total cost includes all doctor’s appointments, tests, and imaging done before the surgery, the surgery itself, and other care and treatment received before discharge from the hospital. The cost also includes follow up services provided to patients after being discharged from the hospital/outpatient facility, such as prescription medications and rehabilitation.

By including the related services before, during, and after the surgery, Wear The Cost captures the total cost of care of a lumbar spine fusion. The costs are based on health insurance claims data, which reflects what health insurers actually paid providers for their services and the patients’ out-of-pocket costs.

In Maryland, the cost of a lumbar spine fusion can range from about $22,000 to over $42,000, depending on the hospital where the procedure takes place. These costs include things you expect, like radiology and lab tests before and after surgery. They also include treatments for complications that you hope not to experience and could potentially be avoided. Common potentially avoidable complications for a lumbar spine fusion include pressure ulcers or bed sores, urinary tract infections, bleeding after surgery, and fluid and electrolyte problems. Some hospitals have more costs associated with potentially avoidable complications than others.

Knowing both the costs associated with the procedure and the rate of potentially avoidable complications can help patients as they consider where to get their surgery — something everyone should think about.

To learn more about what lumbar spine fusions cost in Maryland and which hospitals may offer a better value, check out Or create your own custom report to compare hospitals: