Postoperative Radiation Referral Rates for Metastatic Bone Disease Within the Veteran’s Health Administration and at an Academic Center

Postoperative Radiation Referral Rates for Metastatic Bone Disease Within the Veteran’s Health Administration and at an Academic Center

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Corresponding Author
Kenneth R Gundle
Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation, Oregon Healtuh & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA


Background: External beam radiation therapy is an important aspect of multidisciplinary care for patients with metastatic bone disease. Referral to radiation oncology is within the control of the orthopaedic surgeon and has the potential to serve as a quality benchmark. Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study. Patients with metastatic disease of the femur who underwent prophylactic femoral stabilization or fixation of a pathologic femur fracture from 2010-2015 at a single academic medical center or within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) were included. A total of 950 VHA patients and 130 academic medical center patients were enrolled. The main outcome was the proportion of patients receiving a referral to radiation oncology by six weeks after the date of surgery. Results are presented for each institution and are stratified by type of procedure (prophylactic stabilization versus pathologic fixation). The study further evaluates regional differences within the VHA. Results: The majority of patients received a referral for radiation after prophylactic stabilization (VHA: 290/361 patients [80% 95% CI: 76% - 84%]; academic medical center: 81/89 patients [91%, 95% CI: 85%, 97%]). The proportion referred was higher at the academic medical center (odds ratio [OR]: 2.5, 95% CI: [1.15, 5.36], P =0.027). After fracture fixation, 428/589 (73%, 95% CI: [69%, 77%]) of VHA patients and 30/41 (73%, 95% CI [59%, 87%]) of patients at the academic medical center received a referral to radiation. Receiving a referral was not associated with healthcare system (OR: 1.0; 95% CI: [0.50, 2.10])). Within the VHA, the proportion of patients referred varied by geographic location (Pearson’s chi-squared test, P =0.004 for prophylactic stabilization and P <0.001 for pathologic fixation). Conclusion: Referral rates at both institutions were moderate to high. The observed regional variation within the VHA highlights the importance of establishing quality benchmarks.

Article Info

Article Type
Research Article
Publication history
Received: Tue 28, Dec 2021
Accepted: Wed 12, Jan 2022
Published: Fri 28, Jan 2022
© 2023 Kenneth R Gundle. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Hosting by Science Repository.
DOI: 10.31487/j.ACO.2022.01.01