Societal costs in displaced transverse olecranon fractures: using decision analysis tools to find the most cost-effective strategy between tension band wiring and locked plating.

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Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery / American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons ... [et al.]


BACKGROUND: Tension band wiring (TBW) and locked plating are common treatment options for Mayo IIA olecranon fractures. Clinical trials have shown excellent functional outcomes with both techniques. Although TBW implants are significantly less expensive than a locked olecranon plate, TBW often requires an additional operation for implant removal. To choose the most cost-effective treatment strategy, surgeons must understand how implant costs and return to the operating room influence the most cost-effective strategy. This cost-effective analysis study explored the optimal treatment strategies by using decision analysis tools.

METHODS: An expected-value decision tree was constructed to estimate costs based on the 2 implant choices. Values for critical variables, such as implant removal rate, were obtained from the literature. A Monte Carlo simulation consisting of 100,000 trials was used to incorporate variability in medical costs and implant removal rates. Sensitivity analysis and strategy tables were used to show how different variables influence the most cost-effective strategy.

RESULTS: TBW was the most cost-effective strategy, with a cost savings of approximately $1300. TBW was also the dominant strategy by being the most cost-effective solution in 63% of the Monte Carlo trials. Sensitivity analysis identified implant costs for plate fixation and surgical costs for implant removal as the most sensitive parameters influencing the cost-effective strategy. Strategy tables showed the most cost-effective solution as 2 parameters vary simultaneously.

CONCLUSION: TBW is the most cost-effective strategy in treating Mayo IIA olecranon fractures despite a higher rate of return to the operating room.

Medical Subject Headings

Bone Plates; Bone Wires; Cost-Benefit Analysis; Decision Trees; Fracture Fixation, Internal; Humans; Monte Carlo Method; Olecranon Process; Ulna Fractures; United States

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