Open Access Research article

Health care consumption and costs due to foot and ankle injuries in the Netherlands, 1986–2010

A Siebe De Boer1, Tim Schepers1, Martien JM Panneman2, Ed F Van Beeck3 and Esther MM Van Lieshout1*

Author Affiliations

1 Trauma Research Unit Department of Surgery, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2 Consumer & Safety Institute, P.O. Box 75169, 1070 AD Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:128  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-128

Published: 12 April 2014



Foot and ankle injuries account for a large proportion of Emergency Department attendance. The aim of this study was to assess population-based trends in attendances due to foot and ankle injuries in the Netherlands since 1986, and to provide a detailed analysis of health care costs in these patients.


Age- and gender-standardized emergency attendance rates and incidence rates for hospital admission were calculated for each year of the study. Injury cases and hospital length of stay were extracted from the National Injury Surveillance System (non-hospitalized patients) and the National Medical Registration (hospitalized patients). Data were grouped into osseous and ligamentous injuries for foot and ankle separately. An incidence-based cost model was applied to calculate associated direct health care costs.


Since 1986 the overall emergency attendance rate decreased from 858 to 640 per 100,000 person years. In non-admitted patients (90% of cases), ligamentous injuries approximately halved, whereas osseous injuries increased by 28% (foot) and 25% (ankle). The incidence rate for hospital admission increased by 35%, mainly due to an almost doubling of osseous injuries. Attendance rates showed a peak in adolescents and adults until ~45 years of age in males and (less pronounced) in females. The total number of hospital days decreased to 58,708 days in 2010. Hospital length of stay (HLOS) increased with age and was highest for osseous injuries. HLOS was unaffected by gender, apart for longer stay in elderly females with an osseous ankle injury. Health care costs per case were highest for osseous injuries of the ankle (€ 3,461). Costs were higher for females and increased with age to € 6,023 in elderly males and € 10,949 in elderly females. Main cost determinants were in-hospital care (56% of total costs), rehabilitation/nursing care (15%), and physical therapy (12%).


Since 1986, the emergency attendance rate of foot and ankle injuries in the Netherlands decreased by 25%. Throughout the years, the attendance rate of (relatively simple) ligamentous injuries strongly reduced, whereas osseous injuries nearly doubled. Attendance rates and health care costs were gender- and age-related. Main cost determinants were in-hospital care, rehabilitation/nursing care, and physical therapy.

Ankle; Costs; Epidemiology; Foot; Health care use; Injuries