Study reveals Ultrasound better than X-ray for children with broken arms

A recent study has found ultrasound is accurate, faster and less painful in assessing children for potential broken arms than traditional X-rays.

Distal forearm fractures are the most common fracture type in children and Point-of-Care Ultrasound, or POCUS, is being used more because it offers an accurate approach to diagnosis.
The study involved 169 children between the ages of 4 and 17 with a suspected forearm fracture, and comparing the results of both X-ray and POCUS procedures in each of the partakers.

Researchers found POCUS is as accurate as X-rays but is timelier, causes less discomfort and offers higher caregiver satisfaction than traditional X-rays.

Among the children, 76 of whom had fractures, the researchers report the sensitivity of POCUS for distal forearm fractures was 94.7 percent and specificity was 93.5 percent. POCUS was also linked with a lower median pain score compared to X-ray.

The lead author is Naveen Poonai, MD, MSc MD FRCPC, Associate Professor Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University. Dr. Poonai is globally recognized for his work in the assessment and management of severe pain in children and the role of POCUS in pediatric emergency medicine.

"Our objective was to explore the test performance characteristics and patient-oriented outcomes of POCUS compared to X-ray," said Dr. Naveen Poonai. "Our findings suggest that POCUS is an accurate tool to diagnose distal forearm fractures in children that are associated with high caregiver satisfaction and low levels of pain."

Learn more on the study from Academic Emergency Medicine.

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