The Radiographic Union Scale in Tibial Fractures: Reliability and Validity


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Abstract

Summary:Radiographic assessment of tibial fracture healing continues to pose significant challenges to both routine fracture care and clinical research. Orthopaedic surgeons fail to achieve sufficient agreement on fracture healing when using conventional radiographic measures such as their general impression or the number of cortices bridged by callus. Moreover, the extent to which radiographic assessment of healing corresponds to patient-important outcomes is largely unknown. In an attempt to improve the former (ie, reliability) and inform the latter (ie, validity), recent studies have explored a novel radiographic assessment for tibial shaft fractures, the Radiographic Union Scale for Tibial fractures (RUST). The RUST score assesses the presence of bridging callus and that of a fracture line on each of 4 cortices seen on 2 orthogonal radiographic views. A recent study has found that RUST scores have greater inter-rater reliability when compared with surgeon's general impression or the number of cortices bridged by callus. This may increase the utility of radiographs as a standardized measure of treatment efficacy in the follow-up of tibial fractures.

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