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Cost-effectiveness analysis of cast versus splint in children with acceptably angulated wrist fractures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 March 2011

Camilla von Keyserlingk
St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
Kathy Boutis
University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children
Andrew R. Willan
University of Toronto and SickKids Research Institute
Robert Borden Hopkins
McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
Ron Goeree
McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton


Objectives: In a practice setting where casting is considered the standard of care, the aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of wrist splints compared with routine casting in children with acceptably angulated distal radius greenstick or transverse fractures.

Methods: A cost-effectiveness analysis was conducted alongside a randomized controlled trial (RCT). One hundred children with acceptably angulated distal radius greenstick or transverse fractures received either a wrist splint or cast. Information on health care provider and patient and family resource use as well as productivity cost was collected. Resource use was costed using unit costs from local administrative data sources and expense diaries. Effectiveness was assessed at 6 weeks using the performance version of the Activities Scale for Kids (ASKp) questionnaire. Cost-effectiveness analysis related differential costs to differential ASKp scores.

Results: Mean total cost was $877.58 in the splint group and $950.35 in the cast group, with a mean difference of $−72.76 (standard error [SE] 45.88). Mean total healthcare cost was $670.66 in the splint group and $768.22 in the cast group, with a mean difference of $−97.56 (SE 9.24). Mean (SE) ASKp was 92.8 in the splint group and 91.4 in the cast group, with a mean difference of 1.439 (SE 1.585). Therefore, splint management was more effective and cheaper. After accounting for uncertainty, the probability of splint being cost-effective compared with cast was 94 percent for a willingness-to-pay threshold value of $0 for one-unit gain in ASKp score and exceeded 82 percent for all threshold values.

Conclusions: In this RCT, splint management was cost-effective compared with casting in children with acceptably angulated distal radius greenstick or transverse fractures. This study challenges the existing standard of care for children with this type of fracture and provides justification on clinical and economic grounds for a change in routine practice.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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