Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Total shoulder arthroplasty - costs of imaging

Utility of postoperative radiography in routine primary total shoulder arthroplasty

These authors sought to identify the medical relevance and cost-benefit of routine radiographs after primary anatomic total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA). They reviewed 160 consecutive patients undergoing anatomic TSA by an individual fellowship-trained surgeon who ordered radiographs obtained at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 4 months, and 1 year postoperatively.

The authors reviewed the clinic notes to determine if a change in postoperative care occurred as a result of radiographic findings. Cost data and amount billed were obtained.

 Patients underwent radiography at 1.8 ± 0.2 weeks, 6.5 ± 1.2 weeks, 14.9 ± 2.9 weeks, and 46.8 ± 19.5 weeks postoperatively. Findings on the radiologist’s reading were normal/unremarkable for 100.0%, 96.8%, 95.9%, and 95.2%, respectively, at each visit. 

Review of the radiographs yielded no change in management based on these parameters. The amount billed for radiographs was $284,281 ($1776.76 per patient).

Comment: This study is a model for considering the value of tests that are ordered.  The key question is the one posed: how often does the test obtained change the management of the patient?

This is indeed the question we asked in this post:
Preoperative imaging of the glenoid - what information is needed? In that post we raise similar questions regarding the utility of routine preoperative CT scans.