Assess practices and opinions of spine specialists from Europe and North America on orthosis use in adult patients with acute thoracolumbar (TL) fractures. Evaluate cost of the devices.
Summary of Background Data.
Although orthosis are traditionally used in conservative treatment of TL fractures, recent systematic reviews showed no benefit in patient's outcomes.
A search for contact authors with publications on spine fractures from all European and North American countries was performed. An online questionnaire was sent on demographic data, practice setting, mean number of fractures treated, use of orthosis upon choice for conservative treatment, and average orthosis cost. Data was analyzed based in world regions, economic rank of the country, and health expenditure.
We received 130 answers, from 28 European and five North American countries. Most responders had more than 9 years of practice and worked at a public hospital. 6.2% did not prescribe a brace in any patient with acute TL fractures conservatively treated and 11.5% brace all patients. In a scale from 1 to 5, 21 considered that there is no/low benefit (1) and 14 that bracing is essential (5), with a mean of 3.18. Europeans use orthosis less commonly than North Americans (P < 0.05). Orthosis mean cost was $611.4 ± 716.0, significantly higher in North America compared with Europe and in high income, when compared with upper middle income countries (both P < 0.05). Although hospital costs were not evaluated, orthosis is costlier when it involves admission of the patient (P < 0.05). An increase in orthosis cost associated with higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and higher health expenditure was found.
More than 90% of spine specialists still use orthosis in conservative treatment of adult patients with acute TL fractures. Orthosis cost vary significantly between continents, and it is influenced by the country's economy.
Level of Evidence: 4