SplintER Series: One Big Bounce

 

A 5-year-old boy presents with right leg pain and a limp. His parents report it started after he was bouncing on the trampoline with his older sibling but they did not notice any specific trauma. He has tenderness over his proximal shin with no obvious injury. You suspect a fracture and obtain x-rays of the right knee (Figure 1).

Figure 1. AP and Lateral x-rays of the right knee. Case courtesy of Dr Andrew Dixon, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 16139

(more…)

EMRad: Can’t Miss Pediatric Elbow Injuries

 

Have you ever been working a shift at 3 am and wondered, “Am I missing something? I’ll just splint and instruct the patient to follow up with their PCP in 1 week.” This can be a reasonable approach, especially if you’re concerned there could be a fracture. But we can do better. Enter the “Can’t Miss” series: a series organized by body part that will help identify common and catastrophic injuries. This list is not meant to be a comprehensive review of each body part, but rather to highlight and improve your sensitivity for these potentially catastrophic injuries. We reviewed the approach to the pediatric elbow previously. Now, the “Can’t Miss” pediatric elbow injuries. (more…)

By |2021-04-10T10:24:46-07:00Apr 5, 2021|EMRad, Orthopedic, Pediatrics, Radiology, Trauma|

EMRad: Radiologic Approach to the Pediatric Traumatic Elbow X-ray

This is EMRad, a series aimed at providing “just in time” approaches to commonly ordered radiology studies in the emergency department [1]. When applicable, it will provide pertinent measurements specific to management, and offer a framework for when to get an additional view, if appropriate. We recently covered the adult elbow, here we will cover the approach to the pediatric elbow.

Learning Objectives

  1. Interpret traumatic pediatric elbow x-rays using a standard approach
  2. Identify clinical scenarios in which an additional view might improve pathology diagnosis

Why the pediatric elbow matters and the radiology rule of 2’s

The Pediatric Elbow

  • 10% of all pediatric fractures involve the elbow [2].
  • Missed injuries can cause significant deformity, pain, or functional/neurologic complications [2].

Before we begin: Make sure to employ the rule of 2’s [3]

  • 2 views: One view is never enough.
  • 2 abnormalities: If you see one abnormality, look for another.
  • 2 joints: Image above and below (especially for forearm and leg).
  • 2 sides: If unsure regarding a potential pathologic finding, compare to another side.
  • 2 occasions: Always compare with old x-rays if available.
  • 2 visits: Bring the patient back for repeat films.

An approach to the traumatic pediatric elbow x-ray

  1. Adequacy / Alignment
  2. Effusions or Fat Pads
  3. Bones, Growth Plates, and Ossification Centers
  4. Consider an additional view

1.   Adequacy / Alignment

2.   Effusions or Fat Pads

  • An anterior fat pad can be normal, but is considered pathologic if excessively prominent (usually around ≥20 degrees from the humerus, or “sail sign”).
  • A clearly visualized posterior fat pad is always pathologic.
  • If either the sail sign or posterior fat pad is present, consider a supracondylar fracture or intra-articular fracture (e.g. lateral condyle fracture )

Sail sign

Figure 1: Measurement of apical angle of the anterior fat pad ≥ 20 degrees, concerning for sail sign. There is also a visible posterior fat pad. Case courtesy of Dr. Ian Bickle, Radiopaedia.org. Annotations by Daniel Ichwan, MD.

3.   Bones, Growth Plates, and Ossification Centers

Elbow x-ray

Figure 2: Lateral and AP x-rays of the elbow demonstrating humerus (green), radius (violet), and ulna (blue). Case courtesy of Dr. Jeremy Jones, Radiopaedia.org. Annotations by Daniel Ichwan, MD.

  • Immature bones with open growth plates (physes) are susceptible to injuries (Salter-Harris fractures) with important growth implications.
    • The Salter-Harris classification is as follows below:
      • Salter-Harris Type 1 (“Slipped”) – epiphysis (part of bone between the growth plate and adjacent joint) separates from metaphysis (neck portion of a long bone).
        • Pearl: Can appear radiographically normal, but tender on physical exam.
        • Requires splinting and ortho follow-up.
      • Type 2 (“Above”) – involves metaphysis (“above the physis”).
        • Requires splinting and ortho follow-up.
      • Type 3 (“Lower”) – involves epiphysis (“below the physis”).
        • Consult orthopedics in the department.
      • Type 4 (“Through”) – involves both the metaphysis and epiphysis.
        • Consult orthopedics in the department.
      • Type 5 (“Erasure”) – crushing of physis. May appear normal or focal narrowing of physis.
        • Consult orthopedics in the department

Figure 3: Salter-Harris Classification. Case courtesy of Dr. Matt Skalski, Radiopaedia.org.

  • Pediatric bones have a stronger periosteum than the underlying incompletely ossified bones.
    • Watch out for bowing, torus, greenstick, or avulsion injuries.
  • Trace each bone’s cortex carefully on both AP and lateral views.
  • Pay close attention to all aspects of the humerus, radius, and ulna.
  • Locate each expected ossification center per the patient’s age.
    • If there is one missing or seemingly prematurely present, consider a fracture.

Figure 4: Ossification centers on (a) AP pediatric elbow x-ray (case courtesy of Dr. Leonardo Lustosa, Radiopaedia.org) and (b) lateral pediatric elbow x-ray. Note that not all ossification centers are visible in this view (case courtesy of Dr. Ian Bickle, Radiopaedia.org. Figure 6 (b) annotations by Daniel Ichwan, MD

 

Table 1: Order and timing of appearance of elbow ossification centers. Some people remember this order by using the mnemonic “CRITOE”: capitellum, radial head, internal (medial) epicondyle, trochlea, olecranon, and external (lateral) epicondyle.

4.  Consider an Additional View

Oblique View

  • When: Sometimes included as the 3rd view in a series
  • Why: This is better at seeing the radiocapitellar joint, medial epicondyle, radioulnar joint, and coronoid process. Consider obtaining this view if there is a high suspicion for a subtle lateral condyle fracture or radial head fracture.

Elbow xray

Figure 6: Lateral oblique x-ray of the elbow. Case courtesy of Dr. Craig Hacking, Radiopaedia.org.

X-rays of Contralateral Elbow

  • Given variation among patients, sometimes it might be necessary to image the contralateral extremity to clarify whether the questionable finding is pathologic or actually normal.

References

  1. Schiller, P. et al. Radiology Education in Medical School and Residency. The views and needs of program directors. Academic Radiology, Vol 25, No 10, October 2018. PMID: 29748045
  2. DeFroda SF, Hansen H, Gil JA, Hawari AH, Cruz AI Jr. Radiographic Evaluation of Common Pediatric Elbow Injuries. Orthop Rev (Pavia). 2017;9(1):7030. Published 2017 Feb 20. PMID: 28286625
  3. Chan O. Introduction: ABCs and Rules of 2. In: ABC of Emergency Radiology. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2013:1-10.
  4. Blumberg SM, Kunkov S, Crain EF, Goldman HS. The predictive value of a normal radiographic anterior fat pad sign following elbow trauma in children. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2011 Jul;27(7):596-600. PMID: 21712751
  5. Black KL, Duffy C, Hopkins-Mann C, Ogunnaiki-Joseph D, Moro-Sutherland D. Musculoskeletal Disorders in Children. In: Tintinalli JE, Stapczynski J, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Cline DM. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 8e. McGraw-Hill; Accessed December 22, 2020. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=1658&sectionid=109408415
By |2021-05-15T12:49:15-07:00Mar 19, 2021|EMRad, Orthopedic, Pediatrics, Radiology, Trauma|

PEM Pearls: To Scan or Not to Scan? CT Abdomen in Children with Blunt Torso Trauma

blunt torso traumaAn 18-month-old female with no past medical history is brought in by ambulance after a motor vehicle collision (MVC) at highway speed, restrained in an appropriate car seat. Mom was also brought in after delayed extrication with an obvious femur deformity. EMS reports that the patient had emesis on the scene, was fearful but calm, and has been moving all extremities.

Vitals per EMS: HR 120, BP 100/60, RR 30, SpO2 99%, Temp 36.5 C

Initial Exam:

  • General: crying
  • Neuro: Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of 13 (eyes shut unless talked to, crying spontaneously, moving all extremities)
  • MSK: atraumatic chest, erythema on the left leg
  • Abdomen: without tenderness

Blunt Torso/Abdominal Trauma

An intra-abdominal injury (IAI) is considered to be any radiographically or surgically apparent injury to an intra-abdominal structure (urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, spleen, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, adrenal gland, vasculature, and fascia). An intra-abdominal injury requiring intervention (IAI-I) is any IAI that causes death or requires an intervention such as laparotomy, angiographic embolization, blood transfusion, or even admission for intravenous fluids [1].

Despite our curiosity and desire to diagnose all injuries, emergency medicine teams must focus on recognizing IAI-I and tailor their workup accordingly given the negative consequences of excessive workup and treatment of stable IAIs (e.g., unnecessary splenectomies, hepatectomies, increased length of stay, radiation, and increased medical costs/resources).

Although the incidence of pediatric blunt torso trauma in the United States was 110,525 cases in 2016, the prevalence of IAI has been quoted to be as low as 6.3%; more importantly, the prevalence of IAI-I is less than 2% [1]. Non-pediatric level 1 trauma centers were more likely to use computed tomography (CT) in pediatric trauma patients compared to pediatric trauma centers, even after adjusting for injury severity [2].

Clinical Decision Rule

The Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) conducted a prospective study of over 12,000 children ages 0-18 years presenting to pediatric and general EDs with blunt torso trauma. Significant predictors of IAI-I were low GCS, abdominal tenderness, abdominal wall trauma, thoracic wall trauma, decreased breath sounds, and vomiting. The authors developed a prediction rule with a sensitivity of 97% (93.7, 98.9) and a negative predictive value of 99.9% (99.7, 1.00) [1]. External validation had similar sensitivity (99% 96-100%) reinforcing the utility of this clinical decision rule (CDR) in identifying low-risk individuals and decrease the use of CT [4].

In comparison to other CDRs, this rule does not include a gestalt variable but outperforms clinical gestalt with a lower miss rate (6 compared to 23) [5]. Of note, this prediction rule is not a two-way tool and was created only to determine individuals at low risk of IAI-I, rather than to assist providers in deciding who needs a CT scan.

 

IAI

Adapted from Holmes JF et al 2013 [1]

 

Reviewing the cases missed by the prediction rule in the initial study, possible clinical findings that could be captured with adjuncts, such as labs and imaging, include:

  • Gross hematuria
  • Microscopic hematuria (Red Blood Cells on Urinalysis)
  • Elevated AST/ALT
  • Rib fracture

Adjuncts

No single test effectively screens for IAI-I or IAI, but additional testing can increase the index of concern in cases that already have a higher pre-test probability (individuals who have any of the variables factored into the prediction rule). The following adjuncts can be considered for children who are not deemed very low risk.

Labs

  • Hematocrit <30% [3,7-8]
  • AST>200 U/L, ALT>125U/L [3,7, 9-10]
  • Lipase >100 U/L [9,11-12]
  • UA Gross hematuria [12-17]

Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST)

  • The diagnostic role of a FAST in pediatric trauma is less established than in adult trauma [18].
  • Application of FAST increases as provider suspicion for IAI increases [19].
  • As an adjunct to the clinical exam, FAST can be incorporated into decision making for selected cases of increased IAI concern [20].

Chest X-ray (CXR)

  • Injuries noted on a CXR may contribute to increased concern for IAI depending on location, mechanism, and type of injury [21].

Review of Case

Returning to our case, findings of concern include her GCS of 13 and reported emesis. Although it was a high-speed MVC and may represent a more severe mechanism, this variable was not found to be a predictor of IAI-I and should not in isolation inform your evaluation of her abdominal injury.

Application of the PECARN CDR demonstrates that the patient is not at very low risk for IAI-I. Labs and a FAST are performed and medications are given for symptom control.

The patient’s results are:

Labs:

  • HCT 35%
  • Lipase 20 U/L
  • AST 23 U/L, ALT 30 U/L
  • UA: no gross hematuria

FAST: Negative

On re-evaluation after ondansetron and acetaminophen, the patient has a GCS of 15 and is excitedly playing with her new teddy bear from the fire department while sipping apple juice. The patient is safely discharged home with her dad after a very frightening experience without unnecessary costs or radiation.

Take-Home Points

  • While blunt pediatric abdominal trauma has a high incidence, the prevalence of IAI-I is rather low.
  • The PECARN prediction rule for blunt torso trauma can identify patients that are very-low-risk for an IAI-I.
  • Notably, the mechanism of injury is not a predictable factor in determining IAI-I.
  • Clinicians should consider the use of labs, FAST, and CXR for risk stratification of patients that are not found to be very-low-risk.

Read more pediatric emergency medicine topics as part of the PEM Pearls Series on ALiEM.

References

  1. Holmes JF, Lillis K, Monroe D, et al. Identifying children at very low risk of clinically important blunt abdominal injuries. Ann Emerg Med. 2013;62(2):107-116.e2. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.11.009. PMID: 23375510
  2. Marin JR, Wang L, Winger DG, Mannix RC. Variation in Computed Tomography Imaging for Pediatric Injury-Related Emergency Visits. J Pediatr. 2015 Oct;167(4):897-904.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.06.052. PMID: 26233603
  3. Holmes JF, Sokolove PE, Brant WE, et al. Identification of children with intra-abdominal injuries after blunt trauma. Ann Emerg Med. 2002;39(5):500-509. doi:10.1067/mem.2002.122900. PMID: 11973557
  4. Springer E, Frazier SB, Arnold DH, Vukovic AA. External validation of a clinical prediction rule for very low risk pediatric blunt abdominal trauma. Am J Emerg Med. 2019 Sep;37(9):1643-1648. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2018.11.031. PMID: 30502218.
  5. Mahajan P, Kuppermann N, Tunik M, et al. Comparison of Clinician Suspicion Versus a Clinical Prediction Rule in Identifying Children at Risk for Intra-abdominal Injuries After Blunt Torso Trauma. Acad Emerg Med. 2015;22(9):1034-1041. doi:10.1111/acem.12739. PMID: 26302354
  6. Nishijima DK, Yang Z, Clark JA, Kuppermann N, Holmes JF, Melnikow J. A cost-effectiveness analysis comparing a clinical decision rule versus usual care to risk stratify children for intraabdominal injury after blunt torso trauma. Acad Emerg Med. 2013;20(11):1131-1138. doi:10.1111/acem.12251. PMID: 24238315
  7. Taylor GA, Eichelberger MR, O’Donnell R, Bowman L. Indications for computed tomography in children with blunt abdominal trauma [published correction appears in Ann Surg 1992 Jul;216(1):99]. Ann Surg. 1991;213(3):212-218. doi:10.1097/00000658-199103000-00005. PMID: 1998402
  8. Taylor GA, O’Donnell R, Sivit CJ, Eichelberger MR. Abdominal injury score: a clinical score for the assignment of risk in children after blunt trauma. Radiology. 1994;190(3):689-694. doi:10.1148/radiology.190.3.8115612. PMID: 8115612
  9. Streck CJ, Vogel AM, Zhang J, et al. Identifying Children at Very Low Risk for Blunt Intra-Abdominal Injury in Whom CT of the Abdomen Can Be Avoided Safely. J Am Coll Surg. 2017;224(4):449-458.e3. doi:10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2016.12.041. PMID: 28130170
  10. Streck CJ Jr, Jewett BM, Wahlquist AH, Gutierrez PS, Russell WS. Evaluation for intra-abdominal injury in children after blunt torso trauma: can we reduce unnecessary abdominal computed tomography by utilizing a clinical prediction model?. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012;73(2):371-376. doi:10.1097/TA.0b013e31825840ab. PMID: 22846942
  11. Adamson WT, Hebra A, Thomas PB, Wagstaff P, Tagge EP, Othersen HB. Serum amylase and lipase alone are not cost-effective screening methods for pediatric pancreatic trauma. J Pediatr Surg. 2003;38(3):354-357. doi:10.1053/jpsu.2003.50107. PMID: 12632348
  12. Capraro AJ, Mooney D, Waltzman ML. The use of routine laboratory studies as screening tools in pediatric abdominal trauma. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2006;22(7):480-484. doi:10.1097/01.pec.0000227381.61390.d7. PMID: 16871106
  13. Mee SL, McAninch JW, Robinson AL, Auerbach PS, Carroll PR. Radiographic assessment of renal trauma: a 10-year prospective study of patient selection. J Urol. 1989;141(5):1095-1098. doi:10.1016/s0022-5347(17)41180-3. PMID: 2709493
  14. Morey, Allen F., et al. “Efficacy of Radiographic Imaging in Pediatric Blunt Renal Trauma.” Journal of Urology, vol. 156, no. 6, 1996, pp. 2014–2018., doi:10.1016/s0022-5347(01)65422-3.
  15. Brown SL, Haas C, Dinchman KH, Elder JS, Spirnak JP. Radiologic evaluation of pediatric blunt renal trauma in patients with microscopic hematuria. World J Surg. 2001;25(12):1557-1560. doi:10.1007/s00268-001-0149-6. PMID: 11775191
  16. Santucci RA, Langenburg SE, Zachareas MJ. Traumatic hematuria in children can be evaluated as in adults. J Urol. 2004;171(2 Pt 1):822-825. doi:10.1097/01.ju.0000108843.84303.a6. PMID: 14713834
  17. Levy JB, Baskin LS, Ewalt DH, et al. Nonoperative management of blunt pediatric major renal trauma. Urology. 1993;42(4):418-424. doi:10.1016/0090-4295(93)90373-i. PMID: 8212441
  18. Holmes JF, Gladman A, Chang CH. Performance of abdominal ultrasonography in pediatric blunt trauma patients: a meta-analysis. J Pediatr Surg. 2007 Sep;42(9):1588-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2007.04.023. PMID: 17848254
  19. Menaker J, Blumberg S, Wisner DH, et al. Use of the focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) examination and its impact on abdominal computed tomography use in hemodynamically stable children with blunt torso trauma. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2014;77(3):427-432. doi:10.1097/TA.0000000000000296. PMID: 25159246
  20. Retzlaff T, Hirsch W, Till H, Rolle U. Is sonography reliable for the diagnosis of pediatric blunt abdominal trauma? J Pediatr Surg. 2010 May;45(5):912-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2010.02.020. PMID: 20438925
  21. Holmes JF, Sokolove PE, Brant WE, Kuppermann N. A clinical decision rule for identifying children with thoracic injuries after blunt torso trauma. Ann Emerg Med. 2002 May;39(5):492-9. doi: 10.1067/mem.2002.122901. PMID: 11973556

Read more pediatric emergency medicine topics as part of the PEM Pearls Series on ALiEM.

SAEM Clinical Image Series: Eye Pain After Assault

carotid cavernous fistula

A 33-year-old male presents with intermittent blurry vision and left eye pain for 3 months, and a left-sided orbital headache for 1 day. He reports getting punched in the left side of the head during an altercation a few months ago. The eye pain is worse with ocular movements and is associated with bilateral conjunctival injection and white/green discharge from the left eye.

The patient was seen at another emergency department 3 months prior for the same symptoms. He was then found to have left-sided proptosis, visual acuity 20/60 in the left eye, no fluorescein uptake, and a normal fundoscopic exam. The patient was instructed to follow up with ophthalmology but did not. The patient denies fevers, chills, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

 

(more…)

SAEM Clinical Images: Man vs Snow Blower

amputation

A 28-year-old man presents to the emergency department after a snow blower accident while at work. The patient was performing maintenance and he placed his hand into a clogged snow blower while the machine was still on. His hand subsequently got jammed in the snow blower, catching his second and third digits. The patient has an obvious amputation of the right third digit with the stump still connected to the hand via the flexor tendon, which is attached to the distal phalanx. He has pain in the right hand and lack of sensation to the distal phalanx.

(more…)

Go to Top