Economic evaluations of diagnostic tests, treatment and prevention for lateral ankle sprains: a systematic review

Br J Sports Med. 2013 Dec;47(18):1144-9. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2012-090319. Epub 2012 May 3.


Objective: To assess and summarise the economic evidence regarding diagnostic tests, treatment and prevention for lateral ankle sprains.

Methods: Potential studies were identified from electronic databases and trial registries and by scanning reference lists. Risk of bias and methodological quality were evaluated. Two independent reviewers screened, assessed studies and extracted data. Data were synthesised descriptively due to study heterogeneity.

Results: A total of 230 records were identified; 10 studies were included. Five studies conducted a full economic evaluation and five studies involved cost analyses. Lack of blinding was the main risk of bias. The methodological quality of the full economic evaluations was fairly good. Valuation of costs, measurement of outcomes and sensitivity analysis were points for improvement. Single studies showed that the Ottawa ankle rules (OAR) was cost effective for diagnosing lateral ankle sprains in the emergency setting compared with existing hospital protocols; acute treatment with anti-inflammatory medication and the plaster cast for severe sprains appeared cost effective; and neuromuscular training was cost effective in preventing ankle re-injury.

Conclusions: Results of this current systematic review supplements the evidence provided by reviews of effectiveness. There is evidence to support the implementation of OAR in the emergency setting, the use of anti-inflammatory medication and the plaster cast in the acute phase, and the prescription of neuromuscular exercises to prevent re-injury. Although the evidence is limited due to the low number of studies, shortcomings in methodological quality and small sample sizes, the findings may be used to inform clinical practice and practice guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Ankle Injuries / economics
  • Ankle Injuries / therapy
  • Casts, Surgical / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Emergency Treatment / economics
  • Exercise Therapy / economics
  • Humans
  • Selection Bias