Timing of operative intervention in the management of acutely fractured ankles and the cost implications

Injury. 2001 Jul;32(6):469-72. doi: 10.1016/s0020-1383(00)00254-0.


A study of the length of the time between the diagnosis of an ankle fracture and operative intervention and the length of subsequent hospital stay was undertaken. The delay in operative fixation beyond 24 h from injury was associated with a lengthening of stay. The cost implication of a longer stay was assessed. Eighty-seven patients with 87 fractures fulfilled the inclusion criteria of having an acute closed fracture of the ankle requiring open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). There were 34 unimalleolar, 35 bimalleolar and 18 trimalleolar fractures. Only 47 (54%) of the patients were operated on within 24 h of injury, even though 74 had presented by 6 h and a further five by 24 h. The mean inpatient stay was 9.6 days for this early operation group. The patients who had their operation delayed were in hospital for a mean of 14 days, a significant difference (P<0.0001) (using Wilcoxon's Signed Rank test). The cost per patient per day of an acute trauma bed is estimated at pound sterlings 225. This translates into an average cost of pound sterlings 990 more per patient whose operation is delayed. We recommend that policies be put in place to provide early operative intervention for patients with fractured ankles as this would result in significant financial savings.

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Injuries / economics
  • Ankle Injuries / surgery*
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / economics*
  • Fractures, Bone / economics
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery*
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors