Cost-Effectiveness of Operative Versus Nonoperative Treatment of Displaced Midshaft Clavicle Fractures: A Decision Analysis.

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The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume


BACKGROUND: While previous studies have shown higher union rates and a quicker return to work with operative treatment of substantially displaced clavicle fractures, there is disagreement whether operative treatment results in improved clinical outcomes. Patients who undergo operative treatment sometimes require additional surgery for implant removal. Nonoperative treatment may fail so that delayed surgical intervention is ultimately required. The duration for which the clinical benefits of operative treatment remain superior to those of nonoperative treatment has not been well established in the literature. Considering these uncertainties, surgeons are faced with a difficult decision regarding whether operative treatment of a midshaft clavicle fracture will be cost-effective. The purpose of this study was to identify the most cost-effective strategy by considering these uncertain parameters with use of decision-analysis techniques.

METHODS: An expected-value decision tree was built to estimate the quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and costs for operative and nonoperative treatment of substantially displaced midshaft clavicle fractures. Values for parameters in the decision model were derived from the literature. Medical costs were obtained from the Medicare database. A Markov model was used to calculate the QALYs for the duration of life expectancy. The decision model was used to analyze the duration for which the clinical results of operative treatment were superior to those of nonoperative treatment during the first 5 years after the operation and during a lifetime. Sensitivity analysis was performed to determine which parameters have the most influence on cost-effectiveness.

RESULTS: Operative treatment was more cost-effective than nonoperative treatment in 54% and 68% of the Monte Carlo trials in the 5-year and lifetime analyses, respectively. The cost per QALY with operative management was

CONCLUSIONS: Operative treatment is more cost-effective than nonoperative treatment for substantially displaced midshaft clavicle fractures. The clinical benefits derived with operative treatment must persist for at least 3 years for operative treatment to remain cost-effective. This research should not be used to conclude that all clavicle fractures should be treated surgically. It is best that such a decision is made through a patient-surgeon shared decision-making process.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Economic and Decision Analysis Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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