Most everyone has seen the auto-insurance TV ad where the deep-voiced man asserts, “Safe drivers save 40%.” Insurance savings notwithstanding, patients frequently ask orthopaedic surgeons when they can return to safe driving after surgery. Of course, the answer depends partly on the patient’s ability to drive safely before surgery, but most of the orthopaedic research on this topic has focused on lower extremities. In the September 16, 2020 issue of The Journal, Orfield et al. take a detailed look at the driving question after wide-awake, local-anesthetic, no-tourniquet (WALANT) surgery of the hand.
Twelve right-handed patients drove 18 miles under baseline conditions and completed various parking tasks during the first 45- to 55-minute test. The instrumented vehicle they drove obtained kinematic data automatically, and behavioral responses were recorded on video cameras. Then the same subjects completed the same driving exercise in the same vehicle—but this time after having their right hand injected with 10 mL of 1% lidocaine over the volar wrist, and another 10 mL into the carpal tunnel. To further simulate WALANT conditions, researchers applied a bulky hand dressing to each participant’s right hand. The WALANT-modeled driving test included a simulated “surprise event” that required avoidance maneuvers. Researchers analyzed before-and-after data on a variety of kinematics, including braking, acceleration, right and left turning, and proportion of time spent driving with each or both hands.
Overall, Orfield et al. found no evidence of a negative impact on driving fitness in the simulated WALANT state. In fact, the subjects braked harder and steered more smoothly in the WALANT-modeled state, an indication that they perceived they might be impaired. Not surprisingly, participants in the WALANT-modeled state spent decreased time using both hands (from 72% to 62%), while left-hand-only driving increased from 2% to 16% of the time. All participants reported that they felt safe to drive with a numb, bandaged right hand.
These noninferiority findings suggests that WALANT patients are no worse off with immediate driving after the surgical procedure than they were beforehand. The authors are quick to point out that these findings should not be generalized beyond right-handed people driving a passenger car with an automatic transmission in the United States. Still, this study gives us some evidence-based data to better inform patients undergoing common hand procedures now frequently performed under WALANT conditions, such as trigger-finger and carpal-tunnel release. However, we can’t guarantee they will save on their auto insurance.
Click here to view a 3-minute “Author Insight” video with study co-author Peter J. Apel, MD, PhD.
Matthew R. Schmitz, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media
As osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH) progresses, it can impair a patient’s ability to walk, and hip arthroplasty is often the only effective long-term option. Other interventions to relieve the pain of ONFH include surgical decompression of the femoral head, which is generally effective but often does not change the natural history of the process. Once the femoral head collapses and loses sphericity, degenerative arthritis of the hip follows quickly. Well-documented risk factors for ONFH include excessive alcohol consumption and corticosteroid use. But why do some patients with these risk factors develop osteonecrosis, while others do not.
In the September 16, 2020 issue of The Journal, Zhang et al. address that clinical quandary with a genomewide association study on a chart-reviewed cohort of 118 patients with ONFH and >56,000 controls. The findings shed light on what is obviously a condition with multifactorial etiology and complex gene-environment interactions. The case-control study identified 1 gene (PPARGC1B) and 4 single nucleotide variants associated with ONFH overall, and with 2 subgroups—those exposed to corticosteroids and those with femoral head collapse. Steroid intake was highly prevalent in both cohorts—90.7% of the ONFH patients had at least one 3-week course of corticosteroids, compared with 68.3% of controls.
For readers interested in the detailed genetic bases for osteonecrosis, this study offers a treasure trove of data. But for all of us, these findings, after they are verified in other populations, may very well form the basis for pharmacologic and gene-modifying strategies in patients at risk for ONFH. Moreover, osteonecrosis of the femoral head is just one of many musculoskeletal conditions that can probably be addressed with this type of genome-based research strategy.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
For the last 6 years, JBJS has participated in an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.
During the month of September 2020, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT systematic review titled “Meniscus or Cartilage Injury at the Time of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear Is Associated with Worse Prognosis for Patient-Reported Outcome 2 to 10 Years after Injury.”
The authors of this systematic review conclude that “patients, physical therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, and athletic trainers [should] be aware that concomitant meniscus or cartilage injuries may lead to worse knee function 2 to 10 years after ACL reconstruction.”
Amid the current backdrop of opioid misuse, overdose, and addiction, conducting robust studies to investigate management of musculoskeletal pain is uniquely challenging. Last November, a JBJS-convened symposium, supported by a grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, explored those challenges. From that meeting came a 12-article JBJS Supplement published in May 2020.
On Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 8 PM EDT, a one-hour live JBJS webinar will focus on 2 of the most salient solutions arising from the symposium.
Jeffrey Katz, MD, MSc will examine how to overcome study-design challenges such as quantifying opioid use, confounding by indication, and distinguishing between nationwide “secular changes” in opioid prescribing and the true effects from studied interventions.
Seoyoung Kim, MD, ScD, MSCE will emphasize that careful attention to methods is crucial when designing and conducting observational studies based on claims databases and patient registries. Widely accepted definitions of many common terms, such as “persistent opioid use,” do not exist.
Moderated by James Heckman, MD, Editor Emeritus of JBJS, the webinar will feature additional expert commentaries on the two author-led presentations. Andrew Schoenfeld, MD will weigh in on Dr. Katz’s paper and Nicholas Bedard, MD will comment on Dr. Kim’s paper.
The webinar will conclude with a 15-minute live Q&A session during which attendees can ask questions of all the panelists.
Seats are limited–so Register Today!
Tumor resections from the pelvic girdle often pose daunting reconstruction challenges for orthopaedic surgeons. In the September 2, 2020 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Ji et al. report early results from a series of 80 bone-tumor patients who underwent pelvic reconstruction using a 3D-printed modular hemipelvic endoprosthesis. The 3D-printed interconnected porous component was generated from an electron beam melting process, and the design allowed for the main iliosacral fixation screws to be oriented parallel to the loading axis of the trunk.
The authors detected no acetabular component instability or implant loosening or migration after a mean follow-up of 32.5 months. The mean acetabular tilt on the reconstructed side immediately after surgery was 46.9o, and it was 47.1o at the most recent follow-up. The mean function score (84%, as measured by the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society 93 tool) was higher than the previously reported range of 55% to 72% from recent studies, and the authors say that the 3-month dislocation rate in this series (2.5%) “seems to be the lowest ever reported.” Moreover, histological analysis of specimens from 2 patients who experienced tumor recurrence revealed bone trabeculae extending toward the implant and bone ingrowth within the porous network.
Still, complications occurred in 16 (20%) of the patients, with wound dehiscence being the most prevalent one. Deep infections, relatively common after pelvic reconstruction surgery, occurred in 5 (6.3%) of the patients, which is a lower deep-infection rate than those reported in previous studies.
Despite the stable fixation and “satisfying early functional and radiographic outcomes” with this 3D-printed modular prosthesis, the authors caution that their short-term results “may prove to be insufficient for the assessment of implant viability.” Nevertheless, any innovation that helps address the many surgical challenges in this population of orthopaedic patients is welcome.
Pes planovalgus (flatfoot) is a common condition seen in the pediatric orthopaedic clinic. We who help manage this condition differentiate it from adult acquired flatfoot deformity, primarily in that most child and adolescent patients remain asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic and rarely require surgical intervention. However, it would be nice to have data to share with young patients and their parents regarding factors associated with flatfoot symptoms.
Min et al. provide some of that data in the September 2, 2020 issue of The Journal. The authors retrospectively evaluated factors affecting the symptoms of idiopathic pes planovalgus among 123 patients (mean age of 10.1 ± 3.2 years) using the 4-domain Oxford Ankle Foot Questionnaire (OxAFQ) administered to patients and their parents. They compared questionnaire scores to 3 radiographic measurements─anteroposterior (AP) talo-first metatarsal angle, lateral talo-first metatarsal angle, and hallux valgus angles. They also analyzed the scores in relation to patient age and sex.
Min et al. found that the physical domain score for the child-reported OxAFQ decreased by 0.74 with each 1° increase in the AP talo-first metatarsal angle. Because that angle is a surrogate for forefoot abduction, this finding portends worse patient-reported outcomes in kids with greater severity of that component of flatfoot. Female sex was also associated with lower physical domain scores, with the authors postulating that this might be attributable to culturally influenced sex differences.
In addition, age was a significant factor in 3 domains of the OxAFQ. Compared with scores from younger kids, children ≥10 years old and their parents reported statistically worse outcomes with regard to school/play, emotional well-being, and footwear. In other words, at or beyond the age of 10, flatfoot deformity seems to significantly affect the patient’s choice of footwear, interferes with the ability to participate in sports and play, and may cause personal distress, such as that which comes from being teased about foot appearance.
Orthopaedists can help manage most cases of pediatric flatfoot with sound footwear recommendations and reassurance. But it appears that in the setting of increased forefoot abduction, female sex, and symptoms that persist past the age of 10 years, further investigation may be warranted. Although this study has weaknesses, it shows that there may be detriments─both physical and emotional─associated with pes planovalgus in pediatric patients that should not be ignored.
Matthew R. Schmitz, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media
JBJS has long promoted the use of high-level studies to facilitate evidence-based decision making. Still, each year only approximately 10% to 12% of published articles provide Level-I evidence. Although that percentage is increasing, the slope of the upward curve is gentle, largely because of the difficulty in designing and conducting randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and in gathering enough data from existing RCTs to conduct Level-I meta-analyses. The challenge of designing and conducting Level-I studies in orthopaedic surgery is compounded by our need to treat many conditions that are not common enough to make a controlled trial feasible. Consequently, there will always be room for Level-III and Level-IV research in the pages of The Journal (see related JBJS Editorial).
A Level-IV study that focuses on a surgical approach is rare, but in the September 2, 2020 issue of JBJS, Liu et al. describe preliminary results from a new concealed-incision, extrapelvic surgical approach to the anterior pelvic ring. This so-called “Fu-Liu approach” was investigated to treat pubic symphysis diastasis and parasymphyseal fractures, including those of the anterior column. Among the advantages of this approach over the more traditional Pfannenstiel approach are the following:
- Easier protection of the spermatic cord in males and the round ligament of the uterus in females
- Less risk to peritoneal internal organs, iliac blood vessels, and femoral nerves
- Improved aesthetic outcomes (The 2 small incisions are ultimately covered under perineal hair.)
- Relatively short learning curve
As our field continues to innovate toward less-invasive surgical interventions, such creative approaches are welcome. What we need now are comparative trials focused on this surgical approach versus the time-honored Pfannenstiel approach to convince surgeons and assure patients that the Fu-Liu approach yields limited complications and equal or better radiographic and patient-reported functional outcomes.
Because the conditions to which this approach can be applied are quite variable, such a trial would likely have to be multicenter and focused on pure, open-book, isolated pelvic fractures. We look forward to receiving and reviewing the manuscript describing an adequately powered trial that directly compares these two approaches.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD