header advert
You currently have no access to view or download this content. Please log in with your institutional or personal account if you should have access to through either of these
The Bone & Joint Journal Logo

Receive monthly Table of Contents alerts from The Bone & Joint Journal

Comprehensive article alerts can be set up and managed through your account settings

View my account settings

Get Access locked padlock


Routine fixation of displaced midshaft clavicle fractures is not cost-effective

a cost analysis from a randomized controlled trial

Download PDF



The primary aim of this study was to establish the cost-effectiveness of the early fixation of displaced midshaft clavicle fractures.

Patients and Methods

A cost analysis was conducted within a randomized controlled trial comparing conservative management (n = 92) versus early plate fixation (n = 86) of displaced midshaft clavicular fractures. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was used to express the cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). The Six-Dimension Short-Form Health Survey (SF-6D) score was used as the preference-based health index to calculate the cost per QALY at 12 months after the injury.


The mean 12-month SF-6D was 0.9522 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.9355 to 0.9689) following conservative management and 0.9607 (95% CI 0.9447 to 0.9767) following fixation, giving an advantage for fixation of 0.0085, which was not statistically significant (p = 0.46). The mean cost per patient was £1322.69 for conservative management and £5405.32 for early fixation. This gave an ICER of £480 309.41 per QALY. For a threshold of £20 000 per QALY, the benefit of fixation would need to be present for 24 years to be cost-effective compared with conservative treatment. Linear regression analysis identified nonunion as the only factor to adversely influence the SF-6D at 12 months (p < 0.001).


Routine plate fixation of displaced midshaft clavicular fractures is not cost-effective. Nonunion following conservative management has an increased morbidity with comparable expense to early fixation. This may suggest that a targeted approach of fixation in patients who are at higher risk of nonunion would be more cost-effective than the routine fixation of all displaced fractures.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B:995–1001.

Correspondence should be sent to J. A. Nicholson; email:

For access options please click here