UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Presentations of Fracture in Nursemaids Elbow

Keywords: Elbow, fracture, radiology (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/27/2021 by Brian Corwell, MD (Updated: 8/14/2022)
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Presentations of Fracture in Nursemaids Elbow

 

Study group:   Visits by children younger than 10 years, with a diagnosis of radial head subluxation at 1 of 45 pediatric EDs from 2010 to 2018.

Retrospective cohort study of 88,466 ED visits for radial head subluxation

Outcome:  Missed fracture (return visit for upper extremity fracture within 7 days of the index visit).

Results

Median patient age was 2.1 years,

59% of visits were by female patients,

60% of cases occurred in the left arm.

Radiography was performed at 28.5% of visits (Range 19.8% to 41.7%.)

Extremity fractures were observed in 247 cases, representing 0.3% of the cohort.

The odds of missed fracture were higher in:

  1. Children older than 6 years
  2. Children who underwent radiography at the index visit
  3. Children receiving acetaminophen or ibuprofen in the ED.

Summary:  

Only 0.3% of children with a diagnosis of radial head subluxation subsequently received a diagnosis of an upper extremity fracture within 7 days of the index visit.

Missed fractures were commonly about the elbow such as a supracondylar fracture. However, this study also found a significant proportion of missed fractures in other locations (e.g. shoulder, wrist), highlighting the importance of a careful physical examination, and the limitations of localizing pain in younger children. 

Recurrence was common, and the risk of recurrence decreased with increasing age at first presentation.  Overall, radial head subluxation recurrence was 8.7% after the first visit VERSUS 12%-13% in children younger than 2 years. THese patients are likely to return to the ED with a recurrence within 2 years. These findings should help inform anticipatory guidance to parents regarding the risk of recurrence based on their child’s age.