Cost analysis and performance in distal pediatric forearm fractures: is a short-arm cast superior to a sugar-tong splint?

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The aim of this study is to compare splint versus cast immobilization for maintaining alignment following closed reduction of distal 1/3 radius and both-bone forearm fractures. We performed a retrospective review of patient records between 5 and 14 years old with a distal 1/3 radius or radius and ulna fracture requiring reduction. A cost comparison was also performed using facility costs for materials. Reduction was maintained with acceptable alignment in most cases (94%). Although a sugar-tong splint slightly maintained fracture alignment better, this was not significant. Cost analysis favored initial placement of a short-arm cast ($23.59) versus a splint with later cast conversion ($26.95). Pediatric patients with a distal 1/3 radius and/or both-bone fracture requiring reduction maintain postreduction alignment irrespective of the immobilization method used, but initial placement of a short-arm cast is more cost-effective.

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