Purpose of the study
Fractures of the scaphoid must be diagnosed quickly to avoid persistent nonunion and the risk of osteoarthritis. Despite meticulous physical examination and adequate x-ray detection, numerous occult fractures still go unrecognized. The aim of this prospective study was to analyze the pertinence of quantitative radio-scintigraphy (QRS) presently used for the diagnosis of occult wrist fractures.
Material and methods
Quantitative radio-scintigraphy (QRS) is a new imaging technique associating quantitative bone scan and numerical fusion between bone scan images and x-ray images. We conducted a prospective study between November 1994 and March 1999 to evaluate the pertinence of this examination technique for the diagnosis of occult wrist fractures in patients presenting clinical symptoms suggestive of wrist fracture but whose plain x-rays were initially considered normal. Further some patients had several series of plain x-rays performed at several week intervals in order to search for fractures becoming progressively visible on plain x-rays. After the QRS data was acquired, these patients'x-rays were reviewed again. We also compared the cost of QRS, repeated x-rays, bone scan and MRI at the Besançon University Hospital.
QRS was performed in all 154 patients and revealed 61 fractures (56 single-line and 5 multiple-line fractures). Thus 43.5% of these patients had occult wrist fractures (41% of which involved the carpal scaphoid).
Occult fracture of the wrist, particularly the carpal scaphoid, is frequent. Repeated x-ray examinations do not increase the rate of detection of these fractures. Bone scans may also fail to reveal occult fractures. MRI is a key examination in the assessment of wrist fracture symptoms, but is presently not available in all institutions. Bone scan is classically insufficiently precise. QRS is a rapidly available low-cost examination which we have found to be indispensable for the diagnosis of occult wrist fractures. With early QRS diagnosis, the risk of neglected carpal scaphoid fracture and subsequent nonunion and osteoarthritis together with the personal, social, and medicolegal consequences can be avoided.
quantitative x-ray bone scan
© 2004 Elsevier Masson SAS. Tous droits réservés.