Distal interphalangeal joint (DIPJ) fusion using a k-wire has been the gold standard treatment for DIPJ athritis. Recent studies have shown similar patient outcomes with the headless compression screws (HCS), however there has been no cost analysis to compare the two. Therefore, this study aims to 1) review the cost of DIPJ fusion between k-wire and HCS 2) compare functional outcome and patient satisfaction between the two groups.
A retrospective review was performed over a nine year period from 2012-2021 in Counties Manukau. Cost analysis was performed between patients who underwent DIPJ fusion with either HCS or k-wire. Costs included were surgical cost, repeat operations and follow-up clinic costs. The difference in pre-operative and post-operative functional and pain scores were also compared using the patient rate wrist/hand evaluation (PRWHE).
Of the 85 eligible patients, 49 underwent fusion with k-wires and 36 had HCS. The overall cost was significantly lower in the HCS group which was 6554 New Zealand Dollars (NZD), whereas this was 10408 NZD in the k-wire group (P<0.0001). The adjusted relative risk of 1.3 indicate that the cost of k-wires is 1.3 times more than HCS (P=0.0053). The patients’ post-operative PRWHE pain (-22 vs -18, P<0.0001) and functional scores (-38 vs -36, P<0.0001) improved significantly in HCS group compared to the k-wire group.
Literatures have shown similar DIPJ fusion outcomes between k-wire and HCS. K-wires often need to be removed post-operatively due to the metalware irritation. This leads to more surgical procedures and clinic follow-ups, which overall increases the cost of DIPJ fusion with k-wires.
DIPJ fusion with HCS is a more cost-effective with a lower surgical and follow-up costs compared to the k-wiring technique. Patients with HCS also tend to have a significant improvement in post-operative pain and functional scores.