PhD candidate earns outstanding paper award in spinal care

11 November 2011

Bloomberg Nursing PhD student Salin Kim received an outstanding paper award from The Spine Journal for demonstrating value in spinal care. In addition, she was invited to present her paper, titled “Cost-Utility of Lumbar Decompression with or without Fusion for Patients with Symptomatic Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis,” at the 26th annual meeting of the North American Spine Society in November.

Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis (DLS) is a common spinal condition in which one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below due to degenerative changes in the vertebral segmental structure, causing severe disability. It’s also a frequent reason for spinal surgery in individuals over the age of 65.

The most common surgical treatment of symptomatic DLS is a decompression and instrumented fusion. However, contemporary, midline sparing micro-decompressive techniques have shown good results for selected patients with stable grade one DLS. Growing concerns over the rising cost and rates of spinal fusion led to Kim’s comparative cost effectiveness study to determine the relative cost-utility of decompression with and without concomitant instrumented fusion for selected patients with DLS. Research showed that for a select sub-group of DLS patients (leg dominant pain with a stable grade one spondylolisthesis), decompression without fusion is significantly more cost-effective than instrumented fusion, and provides an opportunity for increased service delivery and/or cost savings for this growing population.

The Spine Journal is an international, multidisciplinary journal that publishes original, peer-reviewed articles on research and treatment related to the spine and spine care. It’s a scientific publication of the North American Spine Society, which is a multidisciplinary medical organization dedicated to fostering the highest quality, evidence-based and ethical spine care by promoting education, research and advocacy. For more information, visit