A study published recently in Emergency Nurse suggests that portable ultrasound could be a useful and efficient way for emergency clinicians to detect the presence of minor fractures in patients presenting to a minor injuries unit.

Study authors state in a news release issued by RCNi that clinicians could rule in fractures by studying the ultrasound images, but radiologists should be the ones to rule out fractures.

According to the release, during a 12-month period, 97 patients with suspected minor fractures who visited the minor injury unit at Cirencester Hospital, Cirencester, UK, for treatment participated in the study. Following clinical assessments of suspected limb fractures where the skin was not broken, the patients were referred to both x-ray, as well as ultrasound imaging of their injured area. Both images were then compared.

According to the release, study results indicated 60 patients (62%) had fractures confirmed by normal routine x-ray assessment. Analysis suggested that 51 of these patients (85%) had injuries detected through ultrasonography. The ultrasound picked up on 87% of the 24 patients with arm fractures, the release explains.

Study participants said ultrasound was more convenient, and less painful and distressing, than radiography, per the release. Ultrasound also allows comparison of right and left limbs without concern about multiple exposures to irradiation. From a staff point of view, the release continues, ultrasonography training is minimal, and its use also has the potential to save money for emergency care settings.

Study authors Salam Musa and Paul Wilson echo these findings, saying, in the release, “The study suggests that ultrasonography is a reliable way to detect fractures of the distal radius or ulna, and it is reasonable to conclude that portable ultrasound devices will play an increasingly significant role in the assessment of patients with suspected minor or even subtle fractures in emergency care settings.”

They add, however, that, “ruling out fractures is still the job of radiologists.”

[Source(s): RCNi, ScienceDaily]