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Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for treatment of tibial fractures

an economic evaluation of the TRUST study

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This 501-patient, multi-centre, randomised controlled trial sought to establish the effect of low-intensity, pulsed, ultrasound (LIPUS) on tibial shaft fractures managed with intramedullary nailing. We conducted an economic evaluation as part of this trial.

Patients and Methods

Data for patients’ use of post-operative healthcare resources and time taken to return to work were collected and costed using publicly available sources. Health-related quality of life, assessed using the Health Utilities Index Mark-3 (HUI-3), was used to derive quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). Costs and QALYs were compared between LIPUS and control (a placebo device) from a payer and societal perspective using non-parametric bootstrapping. All costs are reported in 2015 Canadian dollars unless otherwise stated.


With a cost per device of $3,995, the mean cost was significantly higher for patients treated with LIPUS versus placebo from a payer (mean increase = $3647, 95% confidence interval (CI) $3244 to $4070; p < 0.001) or a societal perspective (mean increase = $3425, 95% CI $1568 to $5283; p < 0.001). LIPUS did not provide a significant benefit in terms of QALYs gained (mean difference = 0.023 QALYs, 95% CI -0.035 to 0.069; p = 0.474). Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of LIPUS compared with placebo were $155 433/QALY from a payer perspective and $146 006/QALY from a societal perspective.


At the current price, LIPUS is not cost-effective for fresh tibial fractures managed with intramedullary nailing.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2017;99-B:1526–32.

Correspondence should be sent to J. E. Tarride; email:

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