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The Utility of Bedside Ultrasonography in Identifying Fractures and Guiding Fracture Reduction in Children

Patel, Darshan D. MD; Blumberg, Stephen M. MD; Crain, Ellen F. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31819e34f7
Original Articles

Objective: To compare bedside ultrasonography (BUS) to radiography for identifying long bone fractures, the need for reduction, and the adequacy of reduction.

Methods: Children aged 2 to 17 years presenting to a pediatric emergency department with long bone injuries were prospectively enrolled. Bedside ultrasonography was performed before ordering initial radiographs. If a fracture was identified, measurements of angulation and displacement were made based on BUS images. Radiographs were used to guide management. Patients who had a fracture identified on radiograph underwent standard care. Later, agreement between BUS and radiography for fracture identification, the need for reduction, and the adequacy of reduction were determined.

Results: Thirty-three patients were enrolled, the mean age was 9.1 years (±3.1 years). Sixty six bones were studied; 56 (84.8%) involved the upper extremity. Fractures were identified in 59.1% of all bones; 13 (33.3%) required reduction.

The agreement between BUS and radiography for fracture identification was 95.5%, for the need for reduction 92.3%, and for the adequacy of reduction 92.3%. The sensitivity and specificity of BUS for fracture identification, need for reduction and reduction adequacy was 0.97 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85-1.00), 0.93 (95% CI, 0.74-0.99), and 1.00 (95% CI 0.79-1.00), and 0.85 (95% CI, 0.61-0.96), 1.00 (95% CI, 0.59-1.00) and 0.80 (95% CI, 0.30-0.99), respectively.

Conclusions: These data suggest that BUS evaluation of upper extremity injuries not involving joints maybe comparable to radiography for identifying fractures, the need for reduction, and the adequacy of reduction in children. If further investigations which include a larger number of lower extremity, growth plate, and joint injuries support our findings, BUS may gain a more prominent role in managing children with all long bone injuries.

From the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Lewis M. Fraad Department of Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, NY.

Reprints: Stephen Blumberg, MD, Jacobi Medical Center, 1400 Pelham Parkway S, Bldg 6, Rm 1B25, Bronx, NY 10461 (e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.