Scaphoid fractures: variation in radiographic views – a survey of current practice in the West of Scotland region

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Abstract

Background

A variation seems to exist between hospitals with regard to the initial radiographic assessment of suspected scaphoid fractures.

Materials and methods

A survey of all acute hospitals in the West of Scotland was carried out to ascertain the current practice in the assessment of acute scaphoid fractures. Consultant radiologists and consultant orthopaedic surgeons from the same hospitals were requested to suggest the minimum number and type of views to be ideally performed for a routine scaphoid series.

Results

Fourteen hospitals, 85 consultant orthopaedic surgeons and 60 consultant radiologists were contacted. Among the hospitals, 64.3% performed four views and 28.5% performed three views for a suspected scaphoid fracture. The commonly performed radiographs were lateral with the wrist neutral (85.7%) and postero-anterior oblique in ulnar deviation (78.5%). Of the consultant orthopaedic surgeons, 57.5% suggested four views, while 33.3% suggested three views. A lateral view with the wrist neutral (87.8%) and a postero-anterior view in ulnar deviation (51.5%) were considered most useful. Of the consultant radiologists, 68.4% suggested four views and 15.8% suggested three views. A lateral view with the wrist neutral (84.2%) and a postero-anterior view in ulnar deviation (52.6%) were considered most useful.

Discussion

A lack of uniformity is found among orthopaedic consultants who request scaphoid views, radiographers who perform the views and radiology consultants who report on these. We feel a uniform system of radiographic evaluation of scaphoid fractures should be introduced, with a standardized number and type of views, in all hospitals to increase the familiarity of both terminology and visualization.

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