The Utility of Point-of-care Ultrasound in Detecting Distal Forearm Buckle Fractures in Pediatric Patients
CPS ePoster Library. Goldfarb A. Jun 22, 2016; 128082; 11
Mr. Alexander Goldfarb
Mr. Alexander Goldfarb
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Background: Distal forearm fractures are common paediatric injuries. The use of plain radiographs is almost universal for diagnosis but this technology can be painful and time consuming. It is well known that children's pain in the emergency department (ED) is both under-recognized and suboptimally managed. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has demonstrated good accuracy in detecting cortical disruption in adults but test characteristics in the most common paediatric fracture type (buckle or torus fractures) have not been explored. POCUS may also lead to quicker assessment and be associated with less pain and improved caregiver satisfaction compared to plain radiographs. Our results may provide support an alternative diagnostic strategy for centres where plain radiographs are not readily accessible and where severe pain is an issue.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to: (i) evaluate the diagnostic accuracy POCUS in detecting suspected non-angulated distal forearm fractures in children presenting to the ED compared to AP and lateral plain film x-rays of the forearm, (ii) determine the length of time required to complete a POCUS evaluation for a suspected distal forearm non-angulated fracture in children in the ED, (iii) explore the differences in caregiver satisfaction with POCUS evaluation compared to plain radiography, and (iv) explore differences in associated pain between POCUS and plain radiography.

Methods: This was a prospective cohort study designed to test the hypothesis that POCUS provides comparable sensitivity and specificity to plain radiography and is associated with less pain and greater caregiver satisfaction. We included children aged 4-17 years who presented to the paediatric ED with a suspected non-angulated distal forearm fracture based on a typical mechanism of injury. The patient underwent an x-ray and a POCUS evaluation of the affected region by a Canadian Emergency Ultrasound (CEUS)-trained physician who was blinded to the x-ray results. Caregivers were asked to complete a satisfaction questionnaire using a five-point Likert scale and children were asked to complete the Faces Pain Scale – Revised (FPS-R) reflecting discomfort associated with the diagnostic modality. The primary POCUS diagnosis made by the physician was compared to the x-ray diagnosis made by the staff paediatric radiologist. All POCUS images were independently interpreted by a second expert POCUS sonographer blinded to the original POCUS interpretation, x-ray, and final diagnosis. The primary outcomes were sensitivity of POCUS and pain score using the FPS-R.

Result: Eighty-five participants were enrolled, of whom 33 (39%) sustained a buckle fracture. The mean (SD) age of the participants was 11 (3.4) years and 52 (61%) were male. Sensitivity and sensitivity of POCUS for detecting any cortical disruption was 97% [95% CI: 84.2, 99.9] and 96% [95% CI: 86.8, 99.5], respectively. Agreement (kappa) between sonographers was 0.74 [95% CI: 0.64, 0.87] representing substantial agreement. POCUS was associated with significantly lower mean (SD) pain scores compared to plain radiography [2.3 (2.5) vs 3.6 (3.0), p < 0.01]. The median (IQR) time to perform POCUS was significantly lower that plain radiography [68 (42) vs 1200 (1440) seconds, p < 0.01]. POCUS was associated with comparable mean caregiver satisfaction compared to plain radiography [4.7 (0.7) vs 4.4 (1.0), p = 0.15].

Conclusion: This prospective study of POCUS for non-angulated distal forearm injuries in children suggests that POCUS is associated with excellent sensitivity and specificity for the detection of cortical disruption. Furthermore, POCUS is associated with significantly less pain and procedure time compared to plain radiography. The results suggest that POCUS could be a useful diagnostic strategy in resource-limited settings for children with suspected forearm injuries and has the added benefit of lower associated pain.
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