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Use of Various Glaucoma Surgeries and Procedures in Medicare Beneficiaries from 1994 to 2012

      Purpose

      Determine how procedural treatments for glaucoma have changed between 1994–2012.

      Design

      Retrospective, observational analysis.

      Participants

      Medicare Part B beneficiaries.

      Methods

      We analyzed Medicare fee-for-service paid claims data between 1994–2012 to determine the number of surgical/laser procedures performed for glaucoma in the Medicare population each year.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Number of glaucoma-related procedures performed.

      Results

      Trabeculectomies in eyes without previous scarring decreased 52% from 54 224 in 1994 to 25 758 in 2003, and a further 52% to 12 279 in 2012. Trabeculectomies in eyes with scarring ranged from 9054 to 13 604 between 1994–2003, but then decreased 48% from 11 018 to 5728 between 2003–2012. Mini-shunts done via an external approach (including ExPRESS [Alcon Inc, Fort Worth, TX]) increased 116% from 2718 in 2009 to 5870 in 2012. The number of aqueous shunts to the extraocular reservoir increased 231% from 2356 in 1994 to 7788 in 2003, and a further 54% to 12 021 in 2012. Total cyclophotocoagulation procedures increased 253% from 2582 in 1994 to 9106 in 2003, and a further 54% to 13 996 in 2012. Transscleral cyclophotocoagulations decreased 45% from 5978 to 3268 between 2005–2012; over the same period, the number of endoscopic cyclophotocoagulations (ECPs) increased 99% from 5383 to 10 728. From 2001 to 2005, the number of trabeculoplasties more than doubled from 75 647 in 2001 to 176 476 in 2005, but since 2005 the number of trabeculoplasties decreased 19% to 142 682 in 2012. The number of laser iridotomies was fairly consistent between 1994–2012, increasing 9% over this period and ranging from 63 773 to 85 426. Canaloplasties increased 1407% from 161 in 2007 to 2426 in 2012. Between 1994–2012, despite a 9% increase in beneficiaries, the total number of glaucoma procedures and the number of glaucoma procedures other than laser procedures decreased 16% and 31%, respectively.

      Conclusions

      Despite the increase in beneficiaries, the number of glaucoma procedures performed decreased. Glaucoma procedures demonstrating a significant increase in use include canaloplasty, mini-shunts (external approach), aqueous shunt to extraocular reservoir, and ECP. Trabeculectomy use continued its long-term downward trend. The continued movement away from trabeculectomy and toward alternative intraocular pressure–lowering procedures highlights the need for well-designed clinical trials comparing these procedures.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      ALT (argon laser trabeculoplasty), CPT (Current Procedural Terminology), ECP (endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation), IOP (intraocular pressure), LTP (laser trabeculoplasty), SLT (selective laser trabeculoplasty)
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