A recent multicenter randomized control trial demonstrated similar quality of life at 1 year after open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) compared with nonoperative treatment for stress-positive unstable isolated lateral malleolar fractures. We sought to determine the cost-effectiveness of ORIF compared with nonoperative management of these isolated lateral malleolar fractures.
Cost–utility analysis using decision tree and Markov modeling based on data from a prospective randomized control trial and previously published literature. A single-payer perspective with 1-year and lifetime time horizons was adopted.
Clinical trial data from 6 Canadian level I trauma hospitals.
Lateral malleolus ORIF versus nonoperative treatment.
Main Outcome Measurements:
Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER).
The base case 1-year ICER of the ORIF treatment was $205,090 per quality-adjusted life year gained, favoring nonoperative treatment. For the lifetime time horizon, ORIF becomes the preferred treatment with an ICER of $16,404 per quality-adjusted life year gained. This conclusion is stable provided ORIF lowers the lifetime incidence of ankle arthrosis by >3% compared with nonoperative treatment. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis demonstrated that 33% of model simulations favored ORIF in the 1-year time horizon and 65% of simulations in the lifetime time horizon.
From a single-payer governmental perspective, ORIF does not seem to be cost effective in the 1-year time horizon; however, if operative fixation decreases the lifetime incidence of posttraumatic ankle arthrosis by >3%, then ORIF becomes the economically preferred treatment.
Level of Evidence:
Economic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.