Ankle fractures are a common orthopedic injury that frequently involves associated cartilage lesions, soft tissue damage, and a significant inflammatory burden. Despite studies revealing intra-articular pathology in up to 79% of ankle fractures, only 1% of open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) procedures undergo arthroscopic evaluation. The primary purpose of this study was to determine the cost effectiveness of ankle arthroscopy performed at time of ORIF for ankle fracture.
An IRB approved retrospective review of patients who sustained ankle fractures and underwent ORIF with and without concomitant arthroscopic surgery between 2015 and 2020 were investigated. Patient demographics, fracture characteristics, outcomes, and cost data were collected and analyzed.
There were 567 total ORIF and 28 ORIF and scope included for cost analysis purposes. Total surgical costs averaged $6,537.62 and $6,886.46 for the ORIF only and ORIF and scope procedures respectively. Total direct costs, including operating room time, for the same procedures were found to average $6,212.34 and $7,312.10 for the ORIF only and ORIF and scope procedures respectively. The cost difference between the ORIF only and with arthroscopy was not statistically significant (p = 0.1174). Twelve of the 28 arthroscopic patients (42.86%) had grade 3 or full thickness chondral lesions, and 11/28 (39.28%) arthroscopic patients were found to have grade 1-2 cartilage changes.
In the acute treatment of ankle fractures, concurrent arthroscopic evaluation does not add a significant cost to the procedure and may result in improved short and long term benefits for the patient. With improved arthroscopic efficiency, the cost differential can be further reduced. LOE: IV.

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