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A multi-professional survey of UK practice in the use of intra-articular corticosteroid injection for symptomatic first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis.

BACKGROUND: The first metatarsophalangeal joint is the most common site of osteoarthritis (OA) in the foot and ankle. Intra-articular corticosteroid injections are widely used for this condition, but little is known about their use in practice. This study explored current practice within the UK National Health Service (NHS) relating to the administration of intra-articular corticosteroids for people with painful first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) OA.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey using Qualtrics online survey platform (Qualtrics, Provo, UT, USA), distributed through professional bodies, special interest groups, and social media.

RESULTS: One hundred forty-four healthcare professionals responded, including podiatrists (53/144; 39%), orthopaedic surgeons (28/144; 19%), podiatric surgeons (26/144; 17%) and physiotherapists (24/144; 16%). Half of respondents administered up to 25 corticosteroid injections per year (67/136; 49%) but some administered more than fifty (21/136; 15%). Injections were administered across the healthcare system but were most common in hospital settings (64/136; 44%) followed by community (38/136; 26%), with less delivered in primary care (11/136; 8%). Half of respondents routinely used image-guidance, either ultrasound or x-ray/fluoroscopy (65/136; 48%) although over one third used none (52/136; 38%). Imaging guidance was more common amongst medical professionals (21/31; 68%) compared to non-medical health professionals (45/105; 43%). Overall, methylprednisolone acetate was the most common corticosteroid used. Medical professionals mostly injected methylprednisolone acetate (n = 15/27; 56%) or triamcinolone acetonide (n = 11/27; 41%), whereas premixed methylprednisolone acetate with lidocaine hydrochloride was the most common preparation used by non-medical health professionals (41/85; 48%). When injecting non premixed steroid, lidocaine hydrochloride (15/35; 43%) was the most common choice of local anaesthetic for non-medical health professionals but medical professionals showed more variation between lidocaine hydrochloride (8/23; 35%) levobupivacaine hydrochloride (9/23; 39%) and bupivacaine hydrochloride (5/23; 22%).

CONCLUSIONS: Multiple professional groups regularly administer intra-articular corticosteroids for symptomatic first MTPJ OA across a range of NHS healthcare settings. Overall, methylprednisolone acetate was the most commonly administered steroid and lidocaine hydrochloride the most common local anaesthetic. There was large variation in the use of imaging guidance, type and dose of steroid, local anaesthetic, and clinical pathways used in the intra-articular injection of corticosteroids for people with first MTPJ OA.

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