The National Burden of Orthopedic Injury: Cross-Sectional Estimates for Trauma System Planning and Optimization

J Surg Res. 2020 May;249:197-204. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2019.12.023. Epub 2020 Jan 25.


Background: Management of orthopedic injuries is a critical component of comprehensive trauma care. As patterns of injury incidence and recovery change in the face of emerging injury prevention efforts and technologies and an aging US population, assessment of the burden of orthopedic injury is essential to optimize trauma system planning. We sought to estimate the incidence of orthopedic injury requiring emergency orthopedic surgery in the United States.

Methods: Using nationally representative samples from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, we estimated the incidence of orthopedic injury, polytrauma with orthopedic injury, and emergency operative orthopedic procedures performed for the management of traumatic injury. We used multivariable logistic regression to identify patient, injury, and hospital characteristics associated with odds of emergency orthopedic surgery.

Results: A total of 7,214,915 patients were diagnosed with orthopedic injury in 2013-2014, resulting in 1,167,656 emergency orthopedic surgical procedures. Fall-related injuries accounted for 51% of health care encounters and 61% of emergency orthopedic surgical procedures. Odds of emergency orthopedic surgery were 2.04 times greater for patients with polytrauma, compared with isolated orthopedic injury (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The total burden or orthopedic injury in the United States is substantial, and there is considerable heterogeneity in demand for care and practice patterns in the orthopedic trauma community. Population-based trauma system planning and tailored care delivery models would likely optimize initial treatment, recovery, and health outcomes for orthopedic trauma patients.

Keywords: Injury; Orthopaedic trauma; Trauma systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Planning*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trauma Centers / organization & administration
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery*
  • Young Adult