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BACKGROUND: In distal radius fracture repair, complications often lead to reoperation and increased cost. We examined the trends and complications in open reduction internal fixation of distal radius fractures across hand specialist and non-hand specialist surgeons.METHODS: We examined claims data from the Humana administrative claims database between 2007 and 2016. International Classification of Disease, 9th Edition and Current Procedural Terminology codes were searched related to distal radius fractures repaired by open reduction internal fixation. Patients were filtered based on initial treatment by a hand specialty or non-hand specialty surgeon. Complications were reported within 1year of surgical treatment in the following distinct categories: non-union, malunion, extensor/flexor tendon repair, CRPS, infection. Descriptive statistics were reported.RESULTS: Hand specialists accounted for 182 procedures compared with 7708 procedures by non-hand specialty orthopaedic or general surgeons. There was an increase in the total number of procedures performed by hand specialists across the years of study, with a higher percentage of intra-articular cases completed by hand specialists (80.7%) compared to non-hand specialists (70.1%). Overall, the complication rates of hand specialists (6.5%) were higher than that of non-specialists (4.7%).CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study demonstrate a small difference in overall complications for open reduction internal fixation of distal radius fractures by hand specialists in comparison to non-specialists despite treating a higher percentage of intra-articular fractures. Future work controlling for factors unaccounted for in claims-based analyses, such as fracture complexity, patient comorbidities, and surgeon factors are needed.TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic IV.
View details for PubMedID 29922979