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J Hand Surg Am. 2016 Nov;41(11):1056-1063. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2016.08.007. Epub 2016 Sep 23.

Cost of Immediate Surgery Versus Non-operative Treatment for Trigger Finger in Diabetic Patients.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Electronic address:



As health care costs continue to rise, providers must increasingly identify and implement cost-effective practice measures without sacrificing quality of care. Corticosteroid injections are an established treatment for trigger finger; however, numerous clinical trials have documented the limited efficacy of these injections in the diabetic population. Furthermore, the most cost-effective treatment strategy for diabetic trigger finger has not been determined. The purpose of this study was to perform a decision analysis to identify the least costly strategy for effective treatment of diabetic trigger finger using existing evidence in the literature.


Four treatment strategies for diabetic trigger finger were identified: (1) 1 steroid injection followed by surgical release, (2) 2 steroid injections followed by surgical release, (3) immediate surgical release in the operating room, and (4) immediate surgical release in the clinic. A literature review was conducted to determine success rates of the different treatment strategies. Costing analysis was performed using our institutional reimbursement from Medicare. One-way sensitivity and threshold analysis was utilized to determine the least costly treatment strategy.


The least costly treatment strategy was immediate surgical release in the clinic. In patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, this strategy results in a 32% and a 39% cost reduction when compared with treatment with 1 or 2 corticosteroid injections, respectively. For 1 or 2 corticosteroid injections to be the most cost-effective strategy, injection failure rates would need to be less than 36% and 34%, respectively. The overall cost of care for immediate surgical release in the clinic was $642.


Diabetic trigger finger is a common problem faced by hand surgeons, with a variety of acceptable treatment algorithms. Management of diabetic trigger finger with immediate surgical release in the clinic is the most cost-effective treatment strategy, assuming a corticosteroid injection failure rate of at least 34%.


Economic/decision III.


A1 pulley release; cost; diabetic; trigger finger

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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