Ultrasound better than X-ray for children with broken arms, study says

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

Point-of-Care Ultrasound, or POCUS, is becoming more popular at assessing possible broken arms in children due to its accuracy, speed and reduced pain. (UPI/Shutterstock/Suzanne Tucker)
Point-of-Care Ultrasound, or POCUS, is becoming more popular at assessing possible broken arms in children due to its accuracy, speed and reduced pain. (UPI/Shutterstock/Suzanne Tucker)

Distal forearm fractures are the most common fracture type in children and Point-of-Care Ultrasound, or POCUS, is being used more and more because it offers an accurate approach to diagnosis.

The study involved 169 children between age 4 and 17 with a suspected forearm fracture, and comparing the results of both X-ray and POCUS procedures in each of the participants.
Researchers found POCUS is as accurate as X-rays but is more timely, 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 associated with a lower median pain score compared to X-ray.

“Our objective was to explore the test performance characteristics and patient-oriented outcomes of POCUS compared to X-ray,” said Dr. Naveen Poonai, associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in Ontario, Canada. “Our findings suggest that POCUS is an accurate tool to diagnose distal forearm fractures in children that is associated with high caregiver satisfaction and low levels of pain.”

By Amy Wallace