Trends in Utilization of Upper Extremity Reconstructive Surgery Following Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke

Bryan G. Beutel, Bryan J. Marascalchi, Eitan Melamed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Spasticity resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or stroke can lead to debilitating sequelae, including deformities from joint subluxation and spasticity, causing a loss of functional independence. Despite the effectiveness of surgery to address these issues, it is unclear how often these procedures are performed. The objective of the study was to determine the rate of, and trends associated with, reconstructive upper extremity surgery in patients following TBI or stroke. Methods: The National Inpatient Sample was queried for International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) diagnosis codes for TBI and stroke as well as procedural codes representing functional upper extremity reconstruction from 2001 to 2012. Temporal trends were assessed for case volume, patient demographics, financial considerations, and hospitalizations. Results: A total of 2132 reconstructive procedures were performed in patients with TBI or stroke during the study period, with fewer than 230 cases conducted in any given year and no appreciable increase in case volume over time. This represented less than 1% of eligible, appropriate candidates undergoing surgery. Middle-aged, white females were the most common patients to have such surgery. Medicare was the primary payer for reconstruction, and the cost of surgery increased substantially over time. There was a trend toward longer hospital stays, and the inpatient mortality was approximately 0.5%. Conclusions: There is a substantial underutilization of upper extremity reconstructive surgery for patients with spasticity following TBI or stroke. Increasing costs and limited access to appropriate care may be contributing to differences in use among specific patient subgroups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-40
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • spasticity
  • surgery
  • upper extremity
  • utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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