Direct medical costs of traumatic thoracolumbar spine fractures

Nicole Van Der Roer*, Martine C. De Bruyne, Fred C. Bakker, Maurits W. Van Tulder, Maarten Boers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The costs and cost-effectiveness of treatment of thoracolumbar fractures are poorly known. Methods: We estimated the costs of hospital care and outpatient visits for patients with traumatic thoracolumbar spine fractures. Results: Stable fractures without neurological deficits were treated nonoperatively and the costs were EUR 5,100. Unstable fractures without neurological deficits were treated either nonoperatively, with an average of 29 hospitalization days and average cost of EUR 12,500 (86% of which represented hospitalization costs), or operatively with 24 hospitalization days and average cost of EUR 19,700 (48% of which represented hospitalization costs and 42% surgery costs). Unstable fractures with neurological deficits were usually operated (average costs EUR 31,900). Interpretation: For all patients, the costs of hospitalization days were the main cost driver. Although the length of stay for patients with unstable fractures and without neurological deficit who were treated operatively was shorter than for patients treated nonoperatively, the total costs were higher due to the additional costs of surgery. Surgical treatment must therefore be shown to give a better outcome in order to outweigh the costs. Future research should focus on the cost-effectiveness of operative and nonoperative treatment of patients with unstable vertebral fractures who have no neurological deficits, and take indirect costs and quality of life into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-666
Number of pages5
JournalActa Orthopaedica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2005

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