The economic burden of open tibia fractures: A systematic review

Injury. 2021 Jun;52(6):1251-1259. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2021.02.022. Epub 2021 Feb 14.

Abstract

Background: Open tibia fractures are a common injury following road traffic collisions and place a large economic burden on patients and healthcare systems. Summarising their economic burden is key to inform policy and help prioritise treatment.

Methods: All studies were identified from a systematic search of Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. We included any human with a diagnosed open tibia fracture, following any intervention. The primary outcome was any costs reported or patient return to work status. Secondary outcomes included average length of stay, wage loss, absenteeism and complications such as infection, amputation and nonunion. Data was extracted and we performed a descriptive narrative summary.

Results: We reviewed 1,204 studies from our searches. A total of 34 studies were included from 14 different countries. The average age was 37.7 years old and 76% of the patients were male. 6.5% were Gustilo I, 12% Gustilo II and 82% Gustilo III. Initial direct hospitalisation costs were reported to be between £356 to £126,479 with an average length of stay of 56 days (3.1-244). 89% of participants were working pre-injury, 60% fully returned to work, 17% returned to work part time or changed profession and 22% did not return to work at one-year. The most common complications reported were 22% infection, 11% nonunion and 16% amputation. Mean follow-up duration for the studies was 25 months.

Conclusion: The economic burden of open tibia fractures varies greatly, but it is costly for both hospitals and patients. The current evidence is predominantly from high-income countries (HICs), especially the USA. Further research is required to investigate the costs of open tibia fractures using validated costing tools, especially in low-income countries (LICs), to help inform and direct policy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adult
  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Fractures, Open* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Tibia
  • Tibial Fractures* / surgery