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Cost-Minimization Analysis and Treatment Trends of Surgical and Nonsurgical Treatment of Proximal Humerus Fractures

      Purpose

      Recent evidence demonstrated similar outcomes between nonsurgical and surgical management of displaced proximal humerus fractures. We analyzed treatment trends and performed a cost-minimization analysis comparing nonsurgical treatment, open reduction and internal fixation, reverse total shoulder arthroplasty, and hemiarthroplasty. We hypothesized that rates of surgical treatment have increased and that the costs associated with surgery are greater compared with nonsurgical management of proximal humerus fractures.

      Methods

      We used a US private-payer claims database of 22 million patient records from 2007 to 2016 to compare (1) cost for the episode of care from the payer perspective between each surgical group and nonsurgical treatment of proximal humerus fractures, and (2) annual trends and complication rates of each group. Cost data, including facility fees, physician fees, physical therapy, and clinic visits, were used to complete a cost-minimization analysis.

      Results

      Nonsurgical treatment was associated with lower average total costs compared with surgical intervention. Facility and physician fees accounted for most of this difference. Physical therapy costs and number of physical therapy visits were higher in each surgical group compared with nonsurgical treatment. Surgical treatment was associated with higher complications, revision rates, and length of stay. There was a small but statistically significant decrease in nonsurgical management of proximal humerus fractures between 2007 and 2016. No change was observed in rates of open reduction and internal fixation, whereas rates of reverse total shoulder arthroplasty increased and rates of hemiarthroplasty decreased.

      Conclusions

      Nonsurgical management of proximal humerus fractures decreased during the study period. In the setting of treatment equipoise, cost-minimization analysis favors nonsurgical management of proximal humerus fractures. Surgical management is associated with higher complication rates, revision rates, and length of stay.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Economic Decision Analysis IV.

      Key words

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