Neer Type-II Distal Clavicle Fractures: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Fixation Techniques

Henry M. Fox, Duncan C. Ramsey, Austin R. Thompson, Chris J. Hoekstra, Adam J. Mirarchi, Omar F. Nazir

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background:Neer type-II distal clavicle fractures are unstable and are generally appropriately managed with operative fixation. Fixation options include locking plates, hook plates, and suture button devices. No consensus on optimal technique exists.Methods:A decision tree model was created describing fixation of Neer type-II fractures using hook plates, locking plates, or suture buttons. Outcomes included uneventful healing, symptomatic implant removal, deep infection requiring debridement, and nonunion requiring revision. Weighted averages derived from a systematic review were used for probabilities. Cost-effectiveness was evaluated by calculating incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). The ICER is defined as the ratio of the difference in cost and difference in effectiveness of each strategy, and is measured in cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY). The model was evaluated using thresholds of $50,000/QALY and $100,000/QALY. Sensitivity analysis was performed on all outcome probabilities for each fixation strategy to assess cost-effectiveness across a range of values.Results:Forty-three papers met final inclusion criteria. Using suture buttons as the reference case in the health-care cost model, suture button repair was dominant (both less expensive and clinically superior). Hook plates cost substantially more ($5,360.52) compared with suture buttons and locking plates ($3,713.50 and $4,007.44, respectively). Suture buttons and locking plates yielded similar clinical outcomes (0.92 and 0.91 QALY, respectively). Suture button dominance persisted in the societal perspective model. Sensitivity analysis on outcome probabilities showed that locking plates became the most cost-effective strategy if the revision rate after their use was lowered to 2.2%, from the overall average in the sources of >19%. No other changes in outcome probabilities for any of the 3 techniques allowed suture buttons to be surpassed as the most cost-effective.Conclusions:The cost-effectiveness of suture buttons is driven by low revision rates and high uneventful healing rates. Similar QALY values for locking plate and suture button fixation were observed, which is consistent with existing literature that has failed to identify either as the clinically superior technique. Cost-effectiveness should fit prominently into the decision-making rubric for these injuries.Level of Evidence:Economic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-261
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 5 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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