UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Diagnostic performance of Ultrasound for detection of pediatric elbow fractures

Keywords: Elbow, fracture, ultrasound (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/12/2020 by Brian Corwell, MD (Emailed: 8/22/2020) (Updated: 10/20/2020)
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Diagnostic performance of Ultrasonography for detection of pediatric elbow fracture

Elbow fractures account for approximately 15% of pediatric fractures

Fat pads are traditionally taught as a marker of fracture

In a cadaveric study:

Elbow effusions of 1-3 mL could be identified with ultrasound

Elbow effusions of 5-10 mL could be identified with plain film

Pediatric plain films are sometimes challenging to obtain and interpret compared to adults

              -More likely to be uncooperative in obtaining required views

              -Non-ossified epiphyses

Ultrasound may be used to detect

              -Cortical disruption and irregularity

              -Growth plate widening

              -Hematoma interposed between fracture fragments

              -Elevated posterior fat pad

Absence of elbow fracture was indicated by

              -Lack of cortical disruption

              -Absence of posterior fat pad sign

Meta-analysis of 10 articles totaling 519 patients using ultrasonography to detect elbow fractures

              Sensitivity 96%

              Specificity 89%

              False negative rate 3.7%             

For comparison, plain radiographs

Interpreted by peds EM physicians (87.5% sensitive and 100% specific)

Interpreted by radiology (96% sensitive, 100% specific)

 

Consider using ultrasound as a noninvasive, radiation-free modality for accurate diagnosis of pediatric elbow fractures.

 

References

Lee SH, Yun SJ. Diagnostic Performance of Ultrasonography for Detection of Pediatric Elbow Fracture: A Meta-analysis. Ann Emerg Med. 2019;74(4):493-502.