To investigate demographic trends in elbow arthroscopy over time, as well as to query complication rates requiring reoperation associated with these procedures.
The Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) billing codes of patients undergoing elbow arthroscopy were searched using a national insurance database. From the years 2007 to 2011, over 20 million orthopaedic patient records were present in the database with an orthopaedic International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision diagnosis code or CPT code. Our search for procedures and the corresponding CPT codes for the elbow included diagnostic arthroscopy, loose body removal, synovectomy, and debridement. The type of procedure, date, gender, and region of the country were identified for each patient. In addition, the incidence of reoperation for infection, stiffness, and nerve injury was examined.
There was a significant increase in arthroscopic elbow procedures over the study period. Male patients accounted for 71% of patients undergoing these procedures. Of the elbow arthroscopy patients, 22% were aged younger than 20 years, 25% were aged 20 to 39 years, 47% were aged 40 to 59 years, and 6% were aged 60 years or older. Other than synovectomy, there were regional variations in the incidence of each procedure type. The overall rate of reoperation was 2.2%, with specific rates of 0.26% for infection, 0.63% for stiffness, and 1.26% for nerve injury. It should be noted that because only the complications requiring reoperation are recorded in the database, these numbers are lower than the overall complication rate.
Overall, the incidence of elbow arthroscopy in this patient population is relatively low and appears to be increasing slightly over time. In the database used in this study, elbow arthroscopy procedures were most commonly performed in male patients and in patients aged 40 to 59 years, with regional variation in the incidence of the different procedures. Furthermore, the rate of complications requiring reoperation was low, with a nerve operation being the most common reoperation performed.
Level of Evidence
Level IV, therapeutic case series.
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Published online: May 14, 2015
Accepted: March 19, 2015
Received: October 7, 2014
The authors report the following potential conflict of interest or source of funding: J.C.W. receives support from PearlDiver. Owns stock shares.
© 2015 Arthroscopy Association of North America. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.