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Appropriate Use Criteria for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Benson Headshot.jpgOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Leon S. Benson, MD.

Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) are suggested treatment algorithms for a variety of common orthopaedic conditions, published by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
These algorithms follow logically from the AAOS’s earlier work in publishing Clinical Practice Guidelines, and the methodology behind development of Appropriate Use Criteria is available in great detail on the AAOS website.

It is clear that the recent creation of Appropriate Use Criteria for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), like the other AUC algorithms, was very thoughtful and included the input of numerous experts. It is also clear that these criteria reflect an enormous amount of time and energy on the part of the AUC workgroup in attempting to reflect the best available evidence in managing carpal tunnel syndrome, while also allowing reasonable latitude in judgment on the part of the treating clinician.

The CTS AUC, like all AAOS AUC, are available as a downloadable application for virtually any computer or mobile platform. Using the AUC app is simple. The clinician selects items that correspond to elements of the patient’s history, physical examination, and testing/imaging findings, and then the AUC app categorizes various treatment (and/or workup) options as “appropriate,” “may be appropriate,” or “rarely appropriate.”

However, a few quirks of the CTS AUC may annoy some experienced clinicians. For example, in grading the patient’s history, the app requires that the clinician use either the Katz Hand Symptom Diagram or the CTS-6 history survey. I doubt that most seasoned hand surgeons routinely use these history tools unless their patient is enrolled in a research study. Additionally, the CTS-6 history survey lists “nocturnal numbness” as a choice; carpal tunnel patients typically report nocturnal pain that awakens them from sleep, not numbness (which is usually noticed upon awakening in the morning). In fact, nocturnal pain is probably the most reliable historical detail in confirming carpal tunnel syndrome. The CTS-6 criteria also give considerable weight to the presence of a positive Phalen’s test and Tinel’s sign even though these findings are commonly present in patients who have no pathology. The absence of these physical findings in patients who are suspected of carpal tunnel syndrome is probably more meaningful.

For the most part, though, the CTS AUC get a lot right about currently accepted treatment pathways for carpal tunnel syndrome. Playing around with the app, I was unable to create a combination of history, physical findings, and test data that produced treatment options with which I couldn’t agree. Furthermore, the AUC permit enough latitude in treatment recommendations to encompass the personal preferences of the vast majority of hand surgeons.

But perhaps the most compelling question is — why do we need an AUC app in the first place?  Doctors crave autonomy for many reasons, not the least of which are the extreme time commitment and intellectual demands of medical training, including residency and fellowship. Furthermore, orthopaedic judgment is refined through years of practical experience accrued over the course of a career. How can that be simulated with a simplified decision tree that boils everything down to a handful of categories?  And few fellowship-trained hand surgeons will immediately like the idea of an amorphous body of “experts” coming up with an iPhone app to tell them how to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

However, there is another, critically important theme to the AUC story.  Our colleagues who contribute their expertise to the AAOS AUC projects are actually providing a huge service to orthopaedic patients nationwide.  As health-care delivery in the United States evolves, third-party payors and policy decision-makers are demanding that treatments be evidence based and consistent with expert consensus of “best practices.”  If doctors themselves do not weigh in on this topic, stakeholders who are neither patients nor providers will make up the rules. Most certainly, that would be less optimal for patients than physician experts helping craft treatment parameters, even if the parameters so created are not perfect or applicable to every imaginable clinical scenario.

With this perspective in mind, the CTS AUC have achieved reasonable goals, and they support most of the commonly recommended treatment approaches to managing carpal tunnel syndrome.  More importantly, the AUC-development process allows the community of orthopaedic specialists to have a seat at the table when value-based medicine is demanded, as it should be, by both our patients and policy-makers.

Although my pride might be a little bruised when I imagine practicing medicine by checking off boxes on a mobile app, I can handle it if it strengthens the identity of orthopaedic surgeons as leaders in doing what’s best for our patients.

Leon S. Benson, MD is chief of the Division of Hand Surgery at NorthShore University Healthsystem, professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and a hand surgeon at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. He is also a JBJS associate editor.

Guest Post: Own the Bone Improves Osteoporosis Care

ownbone_logo-r.pngOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Brett A. Freedman, MD.

In the December 21, 2016 edition of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Bunta, et al. published an analysis of data from the Own the Bone quality improvement program collected between January 1, 2010 and March 31, 2015. Over this period of time, 125 sites prospectively collected detailed osteoporosis and bone health-related data points on men and women over the age of 50 who presented with a fragility fracture.

The Own the Bone initiative is more than a data registry; it’s a quality improvement program intended to provide a paradigm for increasing the diagnostic and therapeutic recognition (i.e. “response rate”) of the osteoporosis underlying fragility fractures among orthopaedic practices that treat these injuries.  With more than 23,000 individual patients enrolled, and almost 10,000 follow-up records, this is the most robust dataset in existence on the topic.

This initiative has more than doubled the response rate among orthopaedic practices treating fragility fractures. The number of institutions implementing Own the Bone grew from 14 sites in 2005-6 to 177 in 2015. According to Bunta et al., 53% of patients enrolled in the Own the Bone quality Improvement program received bone mineral density testing and/or osteoporosis therapy following their fracture.

Own the Bone was a natural progression of rudimentary efforts that came about during the Bone and Joint Decade, and it marks a strategic effort on the part of the American Orthopedic Association to identify and treat the osteoporosis underlying fragility fractures.  Multiple studies have demonstrated that only 1 out of every 4 to 5 patients who present with a fragility fracture will receive a clinical diagnosis of osteoporosis and/or active treatment to prevent secondary fractures related to osteoporosis. Ample Level-1 evidence demonstrates that the initiation of first-line agents like bisphosphonates, or second-line agents when indicated, can reduce the chance of a subsequent fragility fracture by at least 50%.  We know these medicines work.

We also know that osteoporosis is a progressive phenomenon. Therefore, failing to respond to the osteoporosis underlying fragility fractures means we as a medical system fail to treat the root cause in these patients. The fracture is a symptom of an underlying disease that needs to be addressed or it will continue to produce recurrent fractures and progressive decline in overall health.

The members of the Own the Bone initiative must be commended for their admirable work. We as an orthopedic community need to attempt to incorporate lessons learned through the Own the Bone experience into our practice to ensure that we provide complete care to those with a fragility fracture. The report from Bunta et al. represents a large—but single—step forward on the journey toward universal recognition and treatment of the diminished bone quality underlying fragility fractures. I look forward to additional reports from this group detailing their continued success in raising the bar of understanding and intervention.

Brett A. Freedman, MD is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in spine trauma and degenerative spinal diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

JBJS JOPA Image Quiz: 7-Year-Old Girl with an Injured Wrist

JOPA IQ Wrist Fracture.jpgThis month’s Image Quiz from the JBJS Journal of Orthopaedics for Physician Assistants (JOPA) presents the case of a 7-year-old girl who sustained a wrist injury from a fall off of monkey bars. An initial lateral radiograph is shown here. Clinicians attempted a closed reduction and applied a long arm cast. At the 1-week follow-up visit, radiographs showed additional displacement and increased dorsal angulation.

Select from among five possible choices for the greatest predictor of fracture displacement in the setting of distal radial metaphyseal fractures: increased fracture obliquity, a cast index ratio of less than or equal to 0.7, short arm casting, an intact ulna, or increased initial displacement of the radius.

Step-Cut Osteotomy for Ulnar Shortening

Step Cut.gifUlnar shortening osteotomy is a widely accepted procedure for surgical treatment of ulnar impaction syndrome, but many techniques require special instrumentation to achieve accurate shortening, adequate fixation, and sufficient rotational control. In the November 2, 2016 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Papatheodorou et al. report on outcomes in 164 patients who underwent so-called “step-cut” osteotomies for positive ulnar variances that ranged from +1 to +6 mm.

The technique itself, which utilizes a standard neutralization plate and lag screw for fixation, is summarized and illustrated in the article. The authors emphasize that the step-cut approach does not require special jigs or instrumentation.

Patients were followed for a median of 66 months. The overall union rate was 98.8%; postoperative ulnar variance ranged from –1 to +1.5 mm after a mean overall ulnar shortening of 2.5 mm. All patients had significant postoperative improvements in pain, range of motion, grip strength, and Mayo Modified Wrist Score. Plate removal due to irritation was necessary in only 12 (7.3%) of the patients.

The authors also found in these patients “a lower rate of degenerative changes at the distal radioulnar joint compared with rates reported in previous studies.” They attribute this to the relatively small amount of ulnar shortening with the step-cut procedure, which they surmise “diminishes the rate of articular incongruity and hence arthritis of the distal radioulnar joint.” On the cost side of the matter, the authors noted that at their institution, special ulnar osteotomy systems cost almost 10 times more than a standard neutralization plate.

JBJS/JOSPT Webinar: Basilar Thumb Arthritis—October 13, 1:30 PM EDT

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Thumbs account for approximately 40% of human hand function, playing a critical role during work, play, and activities of daily living.  Arthritis at the base of the thumb (basilar or trapeziometacarpal joint) is one of the most common forms of hand osteoarthritis, affecting as many as 40 percent of the female population older than 55.

This complimentary webinar, hosted jointly by The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS) and the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT), will look at the efficacy of both nonoperative and surgical approaches to basilar thumb arthritis.

  • Co-authors Jorge Villafañe, PT, PhD, and Joshua Cleland, PT, PhD, will discuss results from a randomized trial in JOSPTthat compared a multimodal program of exercise and mobilization to a placebo in the management of basilar thumb arthritis.
  • E.R. Hovius, MD, co-author of a randomized trial in JBJS comparing trapeziometacarpal fusion with trapeziectomy plus ligament reconstruction, will delineate the findings from this Level I study.

Moderated by Sanjeev Kakar, MD, a hand surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the webinar will include additional perspectives from two expert commentators—Krysia Dziedzic, PhD, and Peter Stern, MD.

 

Click here to register.

What’s New in Orthopaedic Trauma

Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.

This month, David Teague, MD, co-author of the July 7, 2016 Specialty Update on orthopaedic trauma, selected the eight most clinically compelling findings from among the 35 studies summarized in the Specialty Update.

Shoulder

–The randomized PROFHER trial found that surgical treatment of acute displaced proximal humeral fractures (with either ORIF or hemiarthroplasty) yielded no difference in patient outcomes compared with nonsurgical sling treatment at time points up to 2 years. Surgery was also significantly more expensive.1

Wrist

–A randomized trial of 461 patients with an acute dorsally displaced distal radial fracture found no difference at one year in primary or secondary outcomes between a group that received ORIF and a group that received Kirschner-wire fixation. K-wire fixation was also more cost-effective.2

Tibia

–A retrospective study of 137 type-III open tibial fractures concluded that both antibiotic prophylaxis and definitive wound coverage should occur as soon as possible for severe open tibial fractures. Prehospital antibiotic administration should be considered when transport is expected to take longer than one hour. 3

Ankle

–A randomized trial of 214 patients who received either supervised physical therapy or engaged in self-directed home exercise after six weeks of immobilization treatment for an ankle fracture found no difference in activity and quality-of-life outcomes at 1, 3, and 6 months.4

Managing Thromboembolism

–A registry study examining the incidence of deep venous thrombosis (DVT)/pulmonary embolism (PE) after surgery for a fracture distal to the knee identified the following risk factors for a thromboembolic event: previous DVT or PE, oral contraceptive use, and obesity.

Wound Care

–A randomized controlled trial of 2,447 patients compared irrigation with normal saline solution at various pressures to castile soap irrigation. Saline was superior in terms of reoperation rates after 12 months but irrigation pressure did not influence the reoperation rate.5

–A retrospective cohort study involving 104 patients who required a fasciotomy found that hospital stays were shorter among patients who underwent delayed primary closure (DPC) or a split-thickness skin graft on the first post-fasciotomy surgery. The authors noted limited utility of repeat surgeries to achieve DPT if fasciotomy wounds were not closed primarily on the first return trip.6

Obesity

–A prospective observational study of 376 trauma patients requiring orthopaedic surgery found that those with a BMI of >30 kg/m2 had an overall complication rate of 38% and had longer hospital stays, longer delays to definitive fixation, and higher infection rates than nonobese patients.7


References

  1. Rangan A, Handoll H, Brealey S, Jefferson L, Keding A, Martin BC, Goodchild L, Chuang LH, Hewitt C,Torgerson D; PROFHER Trial Collaborators. Surgical vs nonsurgical treatment of adults with displaced fractures of the proximal humerus: the PROFHER randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2015 Mar 10;313(10):1037-47.
  2. Costa ML, Achten J, Plant C, Parsons NR, Rangan A, Tubeuf S, Yu G, Lamb SEUK. UK DRAFFT: a randomised controlled trial of percutaneous fixation with Kirschner wires versus volar locking-plate fixation in the treatment of adult patients with a dorsally displaced fracture of the distal radius. Health Technol Assess.2015 Feb;19(17):1-124: v-vi
  3. Lack WD, Karunakar MA, Angerame MR, Seymour RB, Sims S, Kellam JF, Bosse MJ. Type III open tibia fractures: immediate antibiotic prophylaxis minimizes infection. J Orthop Trauma. 2015 Jan;29(1):1-6.
  4. Moseley AM, Beckenkamp PR, Haas M, Herbert RD, Lin CW; EXACT Team. Rehabilitation after immobilization for ankle fracture: the EXACT randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2015 Oct 6;314(13):1376-85.
  5. Bhandari M, Jeray KJ, Petrisor BA, Devereaux PJ, Heels-Ansdell D, Schemitsch EH, Anglen J, Della RoccaGJ, Jones C, Kreder H, Liew S, McKay P, Papp S, Sancheti P, Sprague S, Stone TB, Sun X, Tanner SL,Tornetta P 3rd., Tufescu T, Walter S, Guyatt GH; FLOW Investigators. A trial of wound irrigation in the initial management of open fracture wounds. N Engl J Med. 2015 Dec 31;373(27):2629-41. Epub 2015 Oct 8.
  6. Weaver MJ, Owen TM, Morgan JH, Harris MB. Delayed primary closure of fasciotomy incisions in the lower leg: do we need to change our strategy? J Orthop Trauma. 2015 Jul;29(7):308-11.
  7. Childs BR, Nahm NJ, Dolenc AJ, Vallier HA. Obesity is associated with more complications and longer hospital stays after orthopaedic trauma. J Orthop Trauma. 2015 Nov;29(11):504-9.

JBJS JOPA Image Quiz: A Teenager with Thumb Pain After Hand-First Slide

JOPA IQ ThumbThis month’s Image Quiz from the JBJS Journal of Orthopaedics for Physician Assistants (JOPA) describes the case of a 14-year-old boy with a history of a bifid first metacarpal who injured his thumb while sliding hand-first into a base during a baseball game. Anteroposterior and lateral radiographs of the thumb are shown, and findings from the physical exam are detailed in words and photos.

The Image Quiz reviews the function of and injuries to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), including the injury classically described as “skier’s thumb.” Pick the best among four possible next steps in diagnosing and treating this injury.