05.02.2021 | Original Article | Ausgabe 7/2021
Clinical utility and economic impact of routine delayed follow-up radiographs in children with uncomplicated distal radius Salter-Harris 2 fractures
- Deborah D. Brahee, Ethan A. Smith
Salter-Harris 2 fractures of the distal radius are common in pediatrics. Children with these fractures have a theoretical risk of developing a physeal bridge with subsequent growth disturbance.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the clinical utility and economic impact of obtaining routine delayed radiographs in asymptomatic patients with uncomplicated Salter-Harris 2 fractures of the distal radius.
Materials and methods
Radiology records were searched retrospectively between Jan. 1, 2016, and Jan. 1, 2018, to identify patients with an acute Salter-Harris type 2 fracture of the distal radius and delayed wrist radiography 3 to 8 months after the injury. Exclusion criteria included distal radius surgery, clinical symptoms, secondary wrist trauma or a history of infection. The financial cost associated with follow-up imaging was determined based on standard charges associated with wrist/forearm radiography, wrist magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and orthopedic clinical care.
A total of 381 children with Salter-Harris 2 fractures of the distal radius and delayed radiographs were identified, 56% male (ages 1–18 years, mean: 9.8 years). Four children were excluded because of surgical intervention or clinical symptoms to the same wrist resulting in 377 subjects. There were five confirmed positive cases (1.3%) of distal radius physeal bridge formation, with four cases confirmed on MRI and one case confirmed clinically and radiographically. Based on routine institutional charges for the wrist/forearm radiographs and orthopedic clinic visits, the total billed charges for the 377 patients would equal $245,804, or $49,161 in billed charges per identified physeal bridge. Only three of the five positive cases of confirmed physeal bridge went on to surgical treatment. The billed charges per identified physeal bridge requiring surgery were $81,935.
In asymptomatic children with uncomplicated Salter-Harris 2 fractures of the distal radius, detection of a physeal bridge on delayed radiographs is rare. The financial burden of routine delayed follow-up in asymptomatic patients, a common clinical practice, is an important consideration.