Use of reprocessed external fixators in orthopaedic surgery: A survey of 243 orthopaedic trauma surgeons

Sorawut Thamyongkit, Malick Bachabi, John M. Thompson, Babar Shafiq, Erik A. Hasenboehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The increasing financial burden of orthopaedic implants on our health care system has prompted cost-control measures, such as implant reprocessing. The purpose of this study was to describe the current usage by orthopaedic trauma surgeons of reprocessed external fixators (EFs) for treatment of complex fractures. Methods: A 16-question survey about use and perceptions of reprocessed EFs was distributed to 894 Orthopaedic Trauma Association members between August 2016 and June 2017 using a web-based survey system. Results: The authors received 243 responses (27%). Thirty-seven percent of respondents reported using reprocessed EFs. Nonprofit hospitals used reprocessed EFs more commonly than did for-profit hospitals (41% vs 15%, P = .0004). Eighty-seven percent of respondents believed reprocessing could be cost-effective. The most common reason (32%) for not using reprocessed EFs was coordination/logistics of reprocessing. Concern about litigation was also reported as a main reason for not using (20%) or having recently stopped using (21%) reprocessed EFs. Conclusions: Many orthopaedic traumatologists are interested in the reprocessing of EF components but few have reprocessing systems in place at their institutions. A major barrier to implementation is concern about litigation, which is likely unwarranted on the basis of Food and Drug Administration approval and a lack of previous litigation. Reprocessing by the original device manufacturers has yielded substantial savings at our institution and is an example of the cost savings that can be expected when implementing an EF reprocessing system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalPatient Safety in Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 7 2018


  • Cost-control measures
  • External fixators
  • Implants
  • Reprocessing
  • Trauma surgeons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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