In an effort to increase health care value, there has been a recent focus on the transition of traditionally inpatient procedures to an outpatient setting. We hypothesized that in the treatment of Gartland extension type II supracondylar humerus fractures (SCHF), outpatient surgery can be performed safely and with similar clinical and radiographic outcomes compared with urgent inpatient treatment with an overall reduction in cost.
We compared a prospective cohort of Gartland type II SCHF treated primarily as outpatients (postprotocol) to a retrospective cohort treated primarily as urgent inpatients (preprotocol), excluding patients with preoperative neurovascular injury, open fracture, additional ipsilateral upper extremity fracture, and prior ipsilateral SCHF. Inpatient versus outpatient treatment was also compared. Outcomes including perioperative factors, complications, readmission, reoperation, postoperative radiographic measurements, and direct hospital costs underwent univariate and multivariate analyses.
A total of 220 patients in the postprotocol cohort (88 inpatients and 132 outpatients) and 129 in the preprotocol cohort (97 inpatients and 32 outpatients) were analyzed. There were no differences in operative times, number of pins, conversion to open reductions, readmissions, or reoperations between cohorts or groups, and no cases developed postoperative neurovascular injuries or compartment syndromes. Total complications did not differ between the preprotocol and postprotocol cohorts; however, were higher in the inpatient group (3.8% vs. 0%; P=0.016) in the univariate, but not multivariate analysis. There were no differences in Baumann angle or humerocondylar angle. Significantly more inpatients’ anterior humeral line fell outside of the middle third of the capitellum in the univariate, but not multivariate analysis. There were significant reductions in total cost per patient between the preprotocol and postprotocol cohorts (marginal effect, −$215; P<0.0001) and between the inpatient and outpatient groups (marginal effect, −$444; P<0.0001).
Delayed treatment of Gartland type II SCHF in the outpatient setting can be performed safely and with similar clinical and radiographic outcomes to those treated urgently as inpatients with a significant cost reduction.
Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic level III—retrospective comparative study.