Workforce Trends in Spinal Surgery: Geographic Distribution and Primary Specialty Characteristics from 2012 to 2017

M. Lane Moore, Rohin Singh, Kyli McQueen, Matthew K. Doan, Harjiven Dodd, Justin L. Makovicka, Jeffrey D. Hassebrock, Naresh P. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Although both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons specialize in spinal care, it is not clear how this increased demand for spine surgeons has affected these fields. In this study, we aim to characterize the total number, geographic distribution, and procedural rate of laminectomies of spine surgeons by their primary specialty from 2012 to 2017. Methods: Neurosurgical and orthopedic data from 2012 to 2017 were obtained from the Medicare Provider Utilization Database. The databases were filtered by the primary specialty to include “Neurosurgeons” and “Orthopedic surgery.” To select specifically for spine surgeons, the 203 Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System codes relating to spinal procedures were chosen as additional filters. Results: Between 2012 and 2017, the total number of spine surgeons in the United States increased by 9.6% from 3,861 to 4,241 total surgeons. The South experienced the largest percentage increase in spine surgeons from 1,584 surgeons in 2012 to 1,769 in 2017 (11.7%). Over this 5-year span, neurosurgeons performed a greater share of both cervical and lumbar laminectomies, but orthopedic spine surgeons saw a greater increase in procedural growth (+87.2% cervical and +16.7% lumbar). Conclusions: There is relatively slow growth in the workforce of spinal surgery, with orthopedic spine specialists outpacing the growth seen in neurosurgical spine. This growth is seen at different rates across different regions in the U.S., with the South experiencing the highest rate of growth. Finally, although neurologic surgery performs more laminectomies in both the lumbar and cervical region, orthopedic surgeons are quickly increasing their proportion of performed procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e392-e397
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Geographic
  • Laminectomy
  • Spine surgery
  • Workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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