Do All Clavicle Fractures in Children Need To Be Managed by Orthopedic Surgeons?

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Abstract

Objectives

Although many uncomplicated pediatric fractures do not require routine long-term follow-up with an orthopedic surgeon, practitioners with limited experience dealing with pediatric fractures will often defer to a strategy of frequent clinical and radiographic follow-up. Development of an evidence-based clinical care pathway can help unnecessary radiation exposure to this patient population and reduce costs to patient families and the health care system.

Methods

A retrospective analysis including patients who presented to the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) for management of clavicle fractures was performed.

Results

Three hundred forty patients (227 males, 113 females) with an average age of 8.1 years (range, 0.1–17.8) were included in the study. The mean number of clinic visits including initial consultation in the emergency department was 2.1 (1.3). The mean number of radiology department appointments was 1.8 (1.3), where patients received a mean number of 4.2 (3.0) radiographs. Complications were minimal: 2 refractures in our series and no known cases of nonunion. All patients achieved clinical and radiographic union and returned to sport after fracture healing.

Conclusions

Our series suggests that the decision to treat operatively is made at the initial assessment. If no surgical indications were present at the initial assessment by the primary care physician, then routine clinical or radiographic follow-up is unnecessary. Our pediatric clavicle fracture pathway will reduce patient radiation exposure and reduce costs incurred by the health care system and patients' families without jeopardizing patient outcomes.

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