Closed metacarpal neck fractures are extremely common. The authors investigated resource use among those managed operatively versus nonoperatively. They hypothesized that considerable use of services and costs are incurred with nonoperative management.
The authors used the 2009 to 2017 Truven Marketscan Research Database to identify patients with closed metacarpal neck fractures and divided them into operative and nonoperative groups. They examined resource use, including imaging, clinic visits, surgery, and occupational therapy sessions, and performed a chi-square analysis of patient demographic data and resources used.
Of 125,610 patients identified, 46,845 met inclusion criteria: nonoperative, n = 45,067 (96.2 percent); and operative, n = 1778 (3.8 percent). The operative group comprised percutaneous fixation (62 percent) and open reduction and internal fixation (38 percent) patients. Nonoperative patients had the greatest mean number of clinic visits, with 1.7 per patient, compared to 1.2 for both percutaneous fixation and open reduction and internal fixation patients (p < 0.001). For nonoperative patients, one to two radiographs (beyond the index radiograph) were obtained, and they had 2.9 occupational therapy sessions; in the operative group, two to three radiographs were obtained, and they had three to four occupational therapy sessions (p < 0.001). Mean total costs were $2406 per patient for percutaneous fixation, $3092 per patient for open reduction and internal fixation, $546 per patient for closed reduction, and $261 per patient for no intervention.
Nonoperative management of closed metacarpal neck fracture has lower costs without the associated operating room, surgeon, and service fees; however, patient care remains resource intensive with the use of imaging, clinic visits, and occupational therapy. Shifts in the authors’ treatment paradigm, including judicious use of services, will result in significant health care savings.