In the June 7, 2017 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Pincus et al. report on a careful analysis comparing outcomes from hip fracture surgery occurring “after hours” (defined by the authors as weekday evenings between 5 PM and 12 AM) with surgeries occurring during “normal hours” (weekdays from 7 AM to 5 PM). In the busy Ontario trauma center where this study was performed, it is common for patients with blunt trauma to take precedence over seniors who are relatively stable but in need of hip fracture care.
Pincus et al. found that adverse outcomes, in terms of surgical and medical complications, were similar whether the hip surgery occurred during normal hours or after hours. Interestingly, there was a higher rate of inpatient complications in the normal-hours group, and fewer patients in the after-hours group were discharged to a rehab after surgery than in the normal-hours group.
It has been my impression that highly skilled professional surgeons and their teams are going to put forward their best efforts for all patients—no matter what time of day or night they operate. Concentration, focus, and high standards can generally overcome fatigue. However, the Pincus et al. study should not be viewed as justification for hospital decision makers to forget their commitment to optimize management of all resources, including surgical teams. After-hours care should never become “routine,” and there should be continuous attention on developing alternative solutions, such as moving elective surgery to other facilities or true shift scheduling that provides all members of the team with occasional daytime hours off for rest and management of personal lives.
The authors note that in their Canadian jurisdiction, there are hospital and surgeon-reimbursement incentives that may work to promote after-hours surgery, but the long-term focus must always put patient outcomes first. And we must always remember that good patient outcomes rely on maintaining surgical teams who are experienced and not burnt out.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
From the perspective of a geriatric patient with a hip fracture, having a preoperative echocardiogram may not seem like a big deal, especially since it’s a noninvasive test. However, as Adair et al. reveal in an April 19, 2017 JBJS study, following clinical guidelines established by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) could have prevented “cardiac echoes” from being done in 34% of 100 elderly hip fracture patients without missing any disease. Such unnecessary testing not only adds cost to the health care system, but can also delay surgical treatment for an operation that evidence suggests is best performed within 24 to 48 hours.
A single reviewer blinded to the later results of the tests assessed whether the ACC/AHA guidelines were followed in each case of an ordered echo; when ≥1 of the criteria were met, the echo was considered ordered in accordance with the guidelines. The rate of adherence to the guidelines was 66% over the 3.5-year study period. No important heart disease was found in any of the 34 patients who underwent an echocardiogram that had not been indicated by the guideline criteria, and 14 of the 66 patients (21%) for whom an echo was indicated by the criteria were found to have heart conditions serious enough to modify anesthesia or medical management.
The most common documented reasons for ordering an echo outside the guideline criteria were dementia that prevented evaluation of preoperative cardiac condition and generic “evaluation of cardiac function,” even though those patients had no history, physical exam findings, or work-ups that suggested heart disease.
Adair et al. conclude that these findings “suggest that integration of [clinical practice guidelines] into a perioperative protocol has the potential to improve the efficiency of preoperative evaluation, reduce resource utilization, and reduce the time to surgery without sacrificing patient safety.”
In the past several years, the orthopaedic community has become highly engaged in improving the follow-up management of patients presenting with fragility fractures. We have realized that orthopaedic surgeons are central to the ongoing health and welfare of these patients and that the episode of care surrounding a fragility fracture represents a unique opportunity to get patients’ attention. Using programs such as the AOA’s “Own the Bone” registry, increasing numbers of orthopaedic practices and care centers are leading efforts to deliver evidenced-based care to fragility-fracture patients.
In the November 16, 2016 edition of The Journal, Aspenberg et al. carefully examine the impact of the anabolic agent teriparatide versus the bisphosphonate risedronate on the 26-week outcomes of more than 170 randomized patients (mean age 77 ±8 years) who were treated surgically for a low-trauma hip fracture. This investigation is timely and appropriate because our systems of care are evolving so that increasing numbers of patients are receiving pharmacologic intervention for low bone density both before and after a fragility fracture.
The secondary outcomes of the timed up and go (TUG) test and post-TUG test pain were better in the teriparatide group, but there were no differences in radiographic fracture healing or patient-reported health status.
Although this study was designed primarily to measure the effects of the two drugs on spinal bone mineral density at 78 weeks, these secondary-outcome findings confirm the value of initiating pharmacologic intervention early on after a fragility fracture, whether it’s a bisphosphonate or anabolic agent. The orthopaedic community needs to continue leading multipronged efforts to deal with the public health issues of osteoporosis and fragility fractures.
Click here for additional OrthoBuzz posts related to osteoporosis and fragility fractures.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
BMJ recently published two studies of interest to orthopaedists:
- After analyzing data from more than 200 cardiovascular, orthopaedic, and neurologic devices approved in both the US and European Union (EU), Hwang et al. found that those approved in the EU first were nearly three times as likely to trigger a safety alert or experience a recall than those first approved in the US. Finding further that trial results were published for fewer than half of approved devices considered “major innovations,” the authors call for “greater regulatory transparency” so physicians and patients can make better-informed decisions. Interestingly, Figure 2 in this study showed that the FDA approval time for orthopaedic devices was faster than ortho-device approval times in the EU. However, a JBJS study earlier this year found that devices approved via the FDA’s “quick” 510(k) process were 11.5 times more likely to be recalled than those cleared through the longer and more stringent FDA pathway.
- In the second BMJ article, a registry-based case-control study, Abrahamsen et al. found that the long-term use of the bisphosphonate alendronate does not increase the risk for atypical femoral fractures (either subtrochanteric or femoral shaft), while protecting against hip fractures. After applying some sophisticated statistical analyses, the authors estimated that 38 patients with ≥5 years of alendronate adherence would need to be treated for an additional 5 years to prevent one hip fracture, while 1449 similar patients would need to be treated to cause an atypical femoral fracture. Click here for more OrthoBuzz coverage of the relationship between bisphosphonates and atypical femoral fractures.
OrthoBuzz regularly brings you a current commentary on a “classic” article from The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. These articles have been selected by the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editors of The Journal because of their long-standing significance to the orthopaedic community and the many citations they receive in the literature. Our OrthoBuzz commentators highlight the impact that these JBJS articles have had on the practice of orthopaedics. Please feel free to join the conversation about these classics by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button in the box to the left.
Austin Moore’s article “The Self-Locking Metal Hip Prosthesis” was published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in 1957. Dr. Moore had a lifelong professional interest in hip-fracture surgery and was well aware of the problems associated with reduction and fixation of displaced femoral neck fractures. He had previously designed an internal-fixation device for the management of these injuries and had recognized that perfect reduction, accurate placement of the hip nail, and 100% compliance with non-weight bearing were prerequisites for a satisfactory outcome. For patients in whom those criteria could not be met or those in whom reduction and fixation had failed, an alternate method of managing these fractures was required.
Fourteen years prior to the publication of this landmark article, Dr. Moore had published a case report in The Journal (July 1943) in which he documented the use of a metal prosthesis to replace the proximal end of the femur for a patient with an aggressive giant cell tumour. Some years later the patient succumbed from other causes and the femur was retrieved at autopsy. The specimens demonstrated satisfactory osseointegration of this implant in the proximal femur and encouraged Dr. Moore to experiment with a number of models of proximal femoral implants. This progression of implant design and usage is carefully outlined in this classic paper, which is amply illustrated with radiographs and autopsy specimens of the evolving prosthesis that eventually became known as the Austin Moore hip prosthesis.
This paper is notable for a number of reasons. First, Dr. Moore was able to demonstrate satisfactory fixation using an intramedullary stemmed implant—a significant departure from the early efforts of the Judet brothers and others, who used a small stem in the residual femoral neck in patients being treated for hip arthritis. Secondly, the author developed a specific surgical approach allowing for the insertion of these slightly curved stems into the femur—an approach that is still used today in a number of surgical hip procedures.
Third, Dr. Moore demonstrated the usefulness of proximal femoral replacement in acute displaced femoral neck fractures, avascular necrosis following femoral neck fracture, and non-unions of the femoral neck. He further expanded the use of this implant in the treatment of hip arthritis and documents a number of such cases in this article.
Throughout the article, Dr. Moore emphasizes the importance of meticulous surgical technique, the use of bone ingrowth fixation, careful sizing of the femoral head to the native acetabulum, and the importance of conscientious post-operative care. Finally, he recognized the importance of routine follow-up of endoprostheses and insisted on a yearly visit to ensure appropriate integration of the prosthesis.
In summary, with this article Dr. Moore started a trend of endoprosthetic treatment for displaced femoral neck fractures that is now the standard of care throughout much of the world. During the development of this technique, he demonstrated the importance of bone ingrowth as a method of stabilizing the prosthesis, the importance of good surgical technique, and the value of long-term follow-up in managing patients with hip prostheses. The fact that the implant he designed and reported on 60 years ago is still in widespread use is a reflection of his vision.
James P. Waddell MD, FRCSC
JBJS Deputy Editor
The orthopaedic community has been aware of racial disparities in care delivery for two decades. The phenomenon has been most clearly elucidated in joint replacement surgery, but in the May 18, 2016 edition of The Journal, Dy et al. confirm that the issue is also at play in hip fracture care.
The authors analyzed the prospectively collected records of nearly 200,000 New York State residents who underwent hip fracture surgery between 1998 and 2010. After multivariable adjustment for factors such as patient characteristics and hospital/surgeon volume, Dy et al. found that black patients were at significantly greater risk for delayed surgery, a reoperation, readmission, and 1-year in-hospital mortality than white patients. The authors also found that patients covered by Medicaid (a marker for low socioeconomic status) were at increased risk for delayed hip-fracture surgery.
It is time for the orthopaedic community to develop an organized strategy to deal with this important social issue. Recruitment into the ranks of orthopaedists of underrepresented minorities, enhanced cultural-sensitivity training, and culturally relevant patient and family educational materials may begin to address the situation. Perhaps the AAOS, the AOA, and the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society could convene a meeting to develop such a strategic plan? I am confident we can begin to reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities if we put our collective minds to it.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
All you stats geeks out there will love the January 6, 2016 study in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery by Schilling and Bozic. We at OrthoBuzz are going to skip the gory statistical details for the most part and focus on the essential findings.
First the premise and purpose of the study: Because measuring and improving health care outcomes are nowadays top priorities, risk adjustment—methods to account for differences in patient characteristics across providers—has become a contentious issue. General risk-assessment models tend not to be well-tailored to orthopaedic procedures. So Schilling and Bozic developed a series of risk-adjustment models specific to 30-day morbidity and mortality following hip fracture repair (HFR), total hip arthroplasty (THA), and total knee arthroplasty (TKA). To develop their models, they used prospectively collected clinical data from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.
Here are the major findings: For THA and TKA, risk-adjustment models using age, sex, and American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status classification were nearly as predictive as models using many additional covariates. HFR model discrimination improved with the addition of comorbidities and laboratory values. Vital signs did not improve model discrimination for any of the procedures.
The study confirms that it is possible to provide adequate risk adjustment for analyzing outcomes of these procedures using only a handful of the most predictive variables commonly available within the operative record. “More parsimonious models are a viable alternative when the adequacy of risk adjustment must be weighed against the cost and burden of large-scale data extraction from the clinical record,” the authors conclude.
In the December 2, 2015 issue of The Journal, Reindl et al. report on the results of a multicenter randomized trial comparing intramedullary (IM) fixation versus sliding hip screws for stabilization of type A2 unstable intertrochanteric fractures. This trial is yet another product of the Canadian Orthopaedic Trauma Society (COTS), which has collaborated on high-quality clinical trials for more than a decade.
There have been more than 20 RCTs comparing intramedullary fixation with sliding hip screws. Many of these trials exclusively investigated stable fracture patterns or included both stable and unstable fractures. These studies generally concluded that nails provide no clear outcome benefits, except perhaps in unstable fractures. Several meta-analyses have also been published that identified no significant difference in clinical or functional outcomes.
Up until now, there has been little dispute with the recommendation that unstable intertrochanteric fractures be fixed with intramedullary implants. While this current trial confirms radiographic advantages to IM fixation (significantly less femoral-neck shortening) after 12 months, Reindl et al. found but no significant functional advantage (in terms of Lower Extremity Measures, Functional Independence Measures, or timed up-and-go tests) with IM fixation in unstable A2 fractures. These findings add more evidence to the claim that IM implants for both stable and unstable patterns are overused in North America.
The question now becomes how many more trials do we need to further make the point? We know that powerful surgeon-behavior influences exist in academic medical centers that continue to use intramedullary implants routinely for intertrochanteric hip fractures (see the 2010 JBJS prognostic study by Forte et al.). Considering the much higher cost of intramedullary nails relative to hip screws, it is high time that these same centers teach appropriate use of IM implants for these fractures so that trainees become facile with both implant types.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
Currently, each year more than 300,000 Americans sustain a hip fracture, and that number is expected to rise to more than 500,000 within the next 20 to 30 years. A new study– based on a literature review, analysis of Medicare claims, and input from clinical experts–finds that the average lifetime societal benefit from surgery to repair hip fractures reduced the direct medical costs of the surgery by $65,000 per patient. Collectively, that results in an estimated $16 billion lifetime societal savings. These savings include reductions in length of and intensity of postinjury care, and the amount of required long-term medical care and assistance required by surgery patients relative to those whose fractures are treated nonsurgically. The study, published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, also found that the quality-adjusted life years in people with surgically treated hip fractures increased 2.5 years for patients with intracapsular fractures and 1.9 years for those with extracapsular fractures. To view a summary of the article, read here.
A recent meta-analysis of eight randomized trials (1,408 total patients) compared aspirin to anticoagulants such as warfarin and dabigatran for preventing venous thromboembolism (VTE) after hip and knee arthroplasty and hip-fracture repair. The analysis found that the overall prophylactic power of these two medical approaches was essentially equal following major lower-extremity surgery. However, the comparison, appearing in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, found a slightly higher (but statistically nonsignificant) risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) with aspirin following hip-fracture repair. Conversely, the risk of bleeding after hip-fracture surgery was lower with aspirin than with anticoagulants.
For additional insight into VTE prophylaxis, view the FREE recorded JBJS webinar “Preventing Arthroplasty-Associated Venous Thromboembolism.” Register here.