Cost Comparisons of Various Diagnostic Medial Branch Block Protocols and Medial Branch Neurotomy in a Private Practice Setting

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We calculated the average total facility and professional cost of medial branch neurotomy (MBN) procedure and diagnostic medial branch blocks (MBBs), based on increments of MBB results (50–100% cutoff values), to determine the most cost-effective protocol that correlates with positive MBN outcome.


We evaluated both actual cost and the theoretical cost of procedures in three groups: 0, single and double MBB. We calculated costs assuming MBB success rates at incrementally higher levels by incrementally raising the cutoff values for a successful diagnostic MBB by 10% increments (from 50% to 100%). We analyzed each cutoff value using the preposition that all patients meeting the cutoff value would proceed to MBN. Those not meeting the cutoff value would not have the cost of MBN added to the cost calculations. A cost per successful procedure was also analyzed.


Cost savings were noted when ≥70% cutoff MBB values were utilized and additionally when patients declined MBN for reasons other than their MBB outcome, although these dropouts lowered the cost-effectiveness of MBB when analyzed as cost per successful procedure. Costs over 5 years per successful procedure using 0, 1 and 2 diagnostic MBB protocol (x) and MBB protocol (o) were, however, similar at all MBB cutoff values.


Diagnostic MBB using progressively stringent MBB cutoff values incrementally excluded patients without posterior element pain as evidenced by incremental increase in positive outcomes following MBN. The exclusion of patients from MBN due to failure to report 70% or greater pain relief following MBB resulted in cost savings in favor of performing diagnostic MBB.

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