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Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

Morbidity and mortality of surgically treated pathologic humerus fractures compared to native humerus fractures

Published:November 18, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jse.2020.10.024

      Background

      Despite an increasing prevalence of patients sustaining pathologic fractures of neoplastic origin, few studies have investigated 30-day postoperative complication profiles after surgical treatment of pathologic humerus fractures. The purposes of this study were to use a large nationally representative database to determine short-term complication profiles after surgical treatment of pathologic humerus fractures and assess how these complications compared with more commonly studied native humerus fractures.

      Methods

      Using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database, we identified 30,866 patients who underwent surgical treatment for either pathologic (n = 449) or native humerus fractures (n = 30,417) from 2007 to 2017. Thirty-day postoperative complication profiles were ascertained and compared between the 2 groups using χ2 analyses. Three logistic regression models were then performed to determine which complications were primarily attributable to the pathologic fracture itself vs. the increased comorbidity burden faced by these patients.

      Results

      Patients with pathologic humerus fractures experienced significantly higher rates of death (6.0% vs. 0.3%, P < .001), serious adverse events (12.2% vs. 3.7%, P < .001), minor complications (15.8% vs. 4.8%, P < .001), extended postoperative lengths of stay (42.3% vs. 21.3%, P < .001), discharge to facilities (22.3% vs. 13.5%, P < .001), and readmissions (14.8% vs. 3.4%, P < .001) compared with patients with native humerus fractures. With respect to specific complications, patients with pathologic fractures were at significantly higher risk of pulmonary complications (1.3% vs. 0.3%, P < .001), renal complications (0.7% vs. 0.2%, P = .007), thromboembolic complications (1.6% vs. 0.6%, P = .01), and transfusions (15.1% vs. 4.1%, P < .001).

      Conclusion

      After surgical treatment, patients with pathologic humerus fractures had significantly higher complication rates compared with native humerus fractures, suggesting that guidelines and treatment algorithms for native humerus fractures may not be generalizable for those of pathologic origin. These findings have significant implications for preoperative patient counseling and may be used to negotiate higher reimbursement rates for these patients given a significantly higher morbidity and mortality than was previously described in literature. Postoperatively, orthopedic surgeons should closely monitor patients with pathologic humerus fractures for deep vein thrombosis, renal complications, and pulmonary complications, use blood-sparing techniques, and employ a multidisciplinary approach to help manage and prevent a more heterogeneous profile of postsurgical complications.

      Level of evidence

      Keywords

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