2016 Volume 238 Issue 2 Pages 153-163
Spinal disorders affect mainly older people and cause pain, paralysis and/or deformities of the trunk and/or extremities, which could eventually disturb locomotive functions. For ensuring safe and high-quality treatment of spinal disorders, in 1987, the Tohoku University Spine Society (TUSS) was established by orthopedic departments in Tohoku University School of Medicine and its affiliated hospitals in and around Miyagi Prefecture. All spine surgeries have been enrolled in the TUSS Spine Registry since 1988. Using the data from this registration system between 1988 and 2012, we demonstrate here the longitudinal changes in surgical trends for spinal disorders in Japan that has rushed into the most advanced “aging society” in the world. In total, data on 56,744 surgeries were retrieved. The number of spinal surgeries has annually increased approximately 4-fold. There was a particular increase among patients aged ≥ 70 years and those aged ≥ 80 years, with a 20- to 90-fold increase. Nearly 90% of the spinal operations were performed for degenerative disorders, with their number increasing approximately 5-fold from 705 to 3,448. The most common disease for surgery was lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) (35.9%), followed by lumbar disc herniation (27.7%) and cervical myelopathy (19.8%). In 2012, approximately half of the patients with LSS and cervical myelopathy were ≥ 70 years of age. In conclusion, the number of spinal operations markedly increased during the 25-year period, particularly among older patients. As Japan has a notably aged population, the present study could provide a near-future model for countries with aging population.