UMEM Educational Pearls - Orthopedics

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Hip Fractures

Keywords: hip, fracture, mri, plain films (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/21/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Hip Fractures:

Typically divided into four types:

  1. Intracapsular,
    1. femoral head and neck fractures
  2. Extracapsular
    1.  trochanteric,
    2. Intertrochanteric
    3. subtrochanteric fractures. 
  • Non-displaced fractures, especially in osteoporotic elderly patients, may be missed on plain films. This is estimated to occur in 2-9% of cases. 
  • It can take up to 72 hours for a fracture to be seen on bone scan. And it is estimated that only 80% of fractures will be seen at 24 hours.
  • MRI is now the preferred imaging modality (100% sensitivity and specificity) to confirm a hip fracture when plain films are negative and equivocal. A MRI will have positive findings in as little as 4 hours after a fracture.
  • Consider CT scan of the hip if MRI is not available at your center.

Here is a link to a picture with a good representation of the different types of fractures.

Show References

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Lisfranc Fractures

Keywords: Lisfranc Fracture (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/2/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

  Lisfranc Fracture:

Typically consists of a fracture of the base of the second metatarsal and dislocation, though it can also be associated with fractures of a cuboid.  Common current  mechanism is when a person steps into a hole and twists the foot.Originally described when a horseman would fall of their horse with their foot still trapped in a stirrup.

Diagnosis should be considered if patient has difficult weight bearing with pain on palpation over the 2nd and 3rd metacarpal head with an appropriate mechanism.


  • Fracture findings on plain films may be subtle.
  • Can obtain weight bearing AP views of the foot to demonstrate dislocation/fracture.
  • If still suspicious consider a CT scan of the foot.

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Clavicle Fractures

Keywords: Clavicle, fracture, surgery (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/25/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

I remember being taught as a medical student that clavicle fractures could be treated conservatively.  A direct quote was "if both ends of the clavicle are in the same room it will heal".

Though conservative treatment with a sling for 6 weeks with early pendulum ROM exercises for the shoulder is appropriate for the vast majority of clavicle fractures surgery should be considered for those that have:

  1. An open fracture
  2. Significant angulation with tenting of the skin
  3. Midshaft fractures that have overlap or displacement greater than 1 cm.
  4. Displaced fractures of the distal clavicle [high rate of non-union]
  5. Surgery can also be beneficial to those that do a lot of lifting or want to return to work as quick as possible.


Category: Orthopedics

Title: Extensor Tendon Injuries

Keywords: Mallet finger, Extensor Injury (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/18/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Extensor Tendon Injuries [Mallet Finger]

  • Due to jamming the finger or to use a Pittsburgh term "stoving it".
  • Can result in a swan neck deformity or permanent flexion of the DIP joint.
  • Due to stretching of the extensor tendon,or avulsion of the extensor tendon off the distal phalanx.
  • Approximately 50% will develop a complication.
  • Conservative treatment is splinting the DIP joint in full extension for 5-6 weeks. 
    • The DIP joint must not be flexed for the full treatment period.
    • If the patient does flex their DIP, the 5-6 week time frame needs to completely restart.
  • Due to the high complication rate all of these patients should be referred to a hand specialist early.

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Posterior Interosseous Nerve Compression Syndrome

Keywords: Posterior Interosseous Nerve, Compression, Radial Tunnel (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/11/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Posterior Interosseous Nerve Compression Syndrome

As eluded to last week Posterior Interosseous Nerve (PIN) Compression Syndrome, a deep branch of the radial nerve, is felt to be radial tunnel syndrome with paralysis.

  • Symptoms depend on whether the PIN is compressed before or after it divides into medial and lateral branches.
    • Before: Results in complete paralysis of the digital extensors, and extensor Capri ulnaris. Wrist will become dorsoradial deviated.
    • After-Medial Branch: Paralysis of extensor carpi ulnaris, extensor digiti quinti, and extensor digitorum communis
    • After-Lateral Branch: Paralysis of abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, and extensor indicis proprius
  • Common causes:
    • Synovitis and Joint Ganglions
    • Nerve compression following fracture repair
    • Idiopathic Compression can occur at these sites
      • Fibrous bands anterior to the radial head
      • Tendinous origin of Extensor Carpri Radialis Brevis
      • Arcade of Froshe –Most common, it is the tendinous proximal border of supinator
      • Distal Edge of Supinator –Least Common
  • Exam:
    • Increased pain with resisted supination of the forearm
    • Supination with Wrist Flexion symptoms will likely be reproduced.
    • Pain with resisted extension of the middle finger
    • Unable to extend thumbs or fingers at MCP joints, but can extend at PIP and DIP joints

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Keywords: Radial Tunnel Syndrome (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/3/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

For those at the University of Maryland that got the chance to hear my lecture this week, you learned about Cubital tunnel syndrome [ulnar neuropathy], the second most common compressive neuropathy.  Carpal Tunnel syndrome remains the number one compressive neuropathy, and this pearl, for the sake of completeness, will address Radial tunnel syndrome.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome

  • Believed to be due to overuse, frequently due to excessive elbow extension or forearm rotation.
  • May actually just be an early stage of posterior interosseous nerve syndrome.
  • Due to compression of the radial nerve as it passes a fibrous band that is attached to the radiocapitellar joint, and the tendinous origins of two muscles, extersor carpi radialis brevis and the supinator.
  • Patients typically have l pain along the anteriolateral forearm.
  • Pain is increased by extending the elbow and pronating the forearm.
  • This syndrome is associated mostly with pain
  • Weakness and numbness are not often seen.


Stay tuned for next week for Posterior Interosseous Nerve syndrome.

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Turf Toe

Keywords: Turf Toe (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/27/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Turf Toe:

Most commonly seen in atheletes who compete on artificial turf.  Presents as pain over the 1st Metatarsalphalangeal  (MTP) joint. 

  • Due to a tear of the Metatarsal phalangeal Joint Capsule
  • Results in subluxation or dislocation of the MTP joint
  • Occurs due to:
    • Hyperextension (most common)
    • Hyperflexion
    • Valgus stress
  • Treatment:
    • NSAIDS
    • Rest
    • Orthosis -- Prevents dorsiflexion during athletic activities


Category: Orthopedics

Title: Achilles Tendon Rupture

Keywords: Achilles Tendon Rupture (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/19/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Achilles Tendon Rupture

  • Most commonly occurs in males age 30-50 years that participate in occasional high intensity sports that are associated with jumping or quick starts.  [i.e.: Basketball, racquetball, tennis, squash, etc].
    • Exact mechanism is a sudden eccentric force that is applied to a dorsiflexed foot.
  • Rupture is also associated with fluoroquinolone and glucocorticoid use.
  • Patient will often hear or feel a sudden snap in the back of the ankle or calf.
  • Typically ruptures 2-6cm proximal to its insertion on to the calcaneous where its blood supply is the least.
  • On physical exam:
    • the patient is unable to plantar flex the foot, raise up on toes, and may have calf swelling. 
    • You may be able to palpate a gap in the achilles tendon.
    • Two specific tests for achilles tendon rupture.
      • Thompson test:  with the leg extended and the foot in neutral position, squeeze the calf muscles.  A positive test is when the foot does not plantar flex when the muscles are squeezed.
      • O’Brien needle test:  Insert a small gauge needle perpendicular to the skin into the proximal (about 10 cm from the calcaneous) achilles tendon. Passively dorsiflex and plantar flex the ankle and foot. If the needle moves in the opposite direction of the movement then the achilles tendon is intact.
  • Treatment
    • Refer to orthopedics
    •  Place the patient in a posterior splint with the foot and ankle in slight plantar flexion. 
      • Ideally this will bring the two tendon ends together and speed healing.

This addition was sent in my Dr. Andrew Milstein:

Thanks for the Orthopedics update.  A few pearls for Achilles Tendon Rupture --> often these patients may present like a typical ankle sprain patient and are placed in a hallway chair.  You can't do an adequate Thompson Test while someone is sitting in a chair.  If you're concerned, lay them down on a stretcher to do the test.

Category: Orthopedics

Title: DeQuervain's and Intersection Syndrome

Keywords: DeQuervain, Intersection, Tenosynovitis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 3/30/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

DeQuervain and Intersection Syndromes:

  • DeQuervain's Syndrome (Tenosynovitis of the Abductor Pollicus Longus and Extensor Pollicus Brevis tendons) is a common disorder that has received a lot of press lately as BlackBerry Thumb or Gamer's Thumb.
    • This condition can be diagnosised by the Finklestein test [Have the patient bend their thumb into the palm of their hand, and then make a fist.  They should then ulnar deviate their wrist.  Pain along the tendons secures the diagnosis.]
    • The pain of DeQuervain's syndrome is typically along the distal end of the radius at the base of the thumb.
  • Intersection syndrome is a less common disorder though closely related to DeQuervain's Syndrome
    • The pain is usually felt on the top of the forearm about three inches proximal to the wrist. 
    • The pain from this condition is due to tenosynovitis of the Extensor carpi radialis longus and Extensor Carpi radialis brevis muscles/tendons caused by the intersection of them with the Extensor pollicus brevis and Abductor pollicus longus tendons.
    • Occurs due to excessive wrist movements.
    • Intersection syndrome can be seen in weight lifters, skiers, and can be seen in homeowners in the fall and winter when they rake a lot of leaves or shovel snow.
  • Treatment is the similar for both conditions and consists of:
    • NSAIDS
    • Cortisone injections can be effective
    • Thumb and wrist immobilization with a Thumb Spica Splint or Cock Up Wrist Splint

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Sternoclavicular Dislocation

Keywords: Sternoclavicular, Dislocation, Posterior (PubMed Search)

Posted: 3/24/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Sternoclavicular Dislocation:

  • A rare cause of chest/shoulder pain following trauma, but one that can be associated with serious vascular injuries.
  • Anterior dislocations of the Sternoclavicular(SC) Joint are much more common  than posterior and  usually resulting from  blow to the anterior shoulder that rotates the shoulder backward and transmits the stress to the medial clavicle and SC joint.
  • A blow to the posteior shoulder that drives the shoulder forward or a direct blow to the medial clavicle can cause a posterior dislocation.
  • Anterior SC dislocations
    • Generally not associated with any underlying injury and can be safely reduced in the ED. 
    • Ligaments and joint capsule entrapment can make it difficult to reduce the joint, and often it is difficult to maintain the reduction. 
    • It is not uncommon for these to require open reducation and internal fixation.
    • Can be reducted by abducting, extending, and applying traction to the ipsilateral arm/shoulder while applying posterior and inferior pressure on the medial clavicle.
  • Posterior SC dislocations
    • Rare
    • Associated with injuries to the underlying vasculature,  dyspnea due to tracheal compression, and parasthesias.
    • Often missed on plain films (CXR, Shoulder Series or Clavicular Series)
    • Best visualized with enhanced CT Scan of the Chest.  IV enhancement recommended to ensure that their is no associated vascular injury.
    • Can be reducted by abducting, extending, and applying traction to the ipsilateral arm/shoulder while pulling the clavicle forward.  Several references recommend using a towel clip to grasp the clavicle if you are unable to grab it effectively with your fingers. 

Sorry this is being delivered to you late.


Category: Orthopedics

Title: Metacarpal Neck Fractures

Keywords: Metacarpal, Fracture, Boxer's Fracture (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/2/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Metacarpal Neck Fractures (i.e.: Boxer’s Fracture if 5th Metacarpal)

Depending on the MCP joint involved a certain amount of angulation is permissible before it adversely affects normal function.

  • 2nd and 3rd Metacarpal fractures < 10۫ angulation ideally these should be perfectly aligned.
  • 4th Metacarpal fracture <20۫ angulation allowed
  • 5th Metacarpal fracture <30۫ angulation. 
    • Studies have shown that even 30۫ angulation will decrease normal function by 20%.  
    • Normal excursion of the 5th MCP is 15۫ to 25۫.
  • No amount of rotation deformity should be allowed.

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Knee Injuries

Keywords: Knee Injury, ACL, dislocation (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/5/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Some quick facts about Knee Injuries:


  • The most common cause of acute traumatic hemarthrosis of the knee is an anterior cruciate ligament tear.
    • Most patients with an ACL injury will give a history of immediate pain, disability, knee swelling and audible pop.
  • The most common ligament injuried in the knee is the medial collateral ligament.
  • Patella dislocations
    • Usually lateral dislocations and often spontaneous reduce.
    • Hyperextend the knee to make the reduction easier.
  • Dislocation of the knee:
    • Anterior is the most common and usually secondary to hyperextension
    • Popliteal artery injury is commonly seen and must be looked for.  Easy bedside test is Ankle Brachial Indexs.


Category: Orthopedics

Title: Pediatric Strains versus Fractures

Keywords: Salter Harris, Fracture, Strain, pediatric (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/13/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Pediatric Strain versus Fracture

  • Due to the fact that tendons are much stronger than the physeal growth plate in pre-pubescent children, one should be extremely cautious when diagnosing a strain/sprain. 
  • Pre-pubescent pediatric patients should be treated as if they have a Salter Harris I fracture with an appropriate splint and close follow up.

Review of Salter Harris Fractures

  1. A fracture through the physeal growth plate. Typically can not be seen on x-ray unless they growth plate is widened.
  2. A fracture through the physeal growth plate and metaphysis.
  3. A fracture through the physeal growth plate and epiphysis.
  4. A fracture through the physis, physeal growth plate and metaphysis.
  5. A crush injury of the physeal growth plate.

Please click here for a pictorial of Salter Harris Fractures from FP Notebook.

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Treatment and Evaluation of Low Back Pain

Keywords: Back Pain, Guideline, Treatment (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/7/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Low Back is one of the most common complaints that we see in the Emergency Department.  Our first priority is to rule out those causes that can lead to paralysis or death (i.e.: epidural abscess, pathological fracture, cauda equina syndrome, etc…).  However, most of the back pain that we will see is musculoskeletal in origin.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American Pain Society (APS) recently released some joint recommendations on the evaluation of treatment of individuals with back pain.

In summary their key recommendations are:

  1. Routine imaging is not required. However, diagnostic imaging and testing should be obtained for patients with low back pain when severe or progressive neurologic deficits are present or when serious underlying conditions are suspected.
  2.  For patients with low back pain, clinicians should consider the use of medications with proven benefits in conjunction with back care information and self-care. For most patients, first-line medication options are acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  3. Medications that have good evidence of short-term effectiveness for low back pain are NSAIDs, acetaminophen, skeletal muscle relaxants (for acute low back pain), and tricyclic antidepressants (for chronic low back pain).

Links to the Clinical Guidelines are listed below:

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Supracondylar Fractures

Keywords: Supracondylar, Fracture, Pediatric, Ossification (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/12/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Supracondylar fractures in children: To assess the likelihood of a supracondylar fracture in a child look at the anterior humeral line. This is a line drawn down the anterior portion of the humerus on the lateral view of the elbow. This line should pass through the center of the capitellum in the distal humerus. If the line does not pass through the center there is a very high likelihood of a supracondylar fracture. Review of the Appearance of Ossification Centers in Children's Elbows CRITOE Capitellum 1 to 8 months Radial Head 3 to 5 years Medial (Internal)Epicondyle 5 to 7 years Trochlea 7 to 9 years Olecranon 8 to 11 years Lateral ( External) Epicondyle 11 to 14 yeras

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Sports Hernia/Athletic pubalgia

Keywords: Sports Hernia, groin pain (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/6/2014 by Brian Corwell, MD (Emailed: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Sports Hernia/Athletic pubalgia


Hx: Gradually increasing lower abdominal/proximal adductor pain. Usually activity related, resolves with rest. Frequent return despite rest when sports activity resumes.

Most common in athletes who perform cutting/maneuvers in addition to frequent acceleration/deceleration. Think ice hockey and soccer.

Bilateral symptoms not uncommon.

PE:  Resisted sit up with palpation of the inferolateral edge of the distal rectus may recreate symptoms. Similarly, resisted hip adduction may elicit symptoms. 

If for no other reason than to make the diagnosis harder to make, valsalva induced pain may also occur.

Fluoroscopic guided injections can be helpful to isolate the site of pain generation.

First line therapy is rest, non-narcotic analgesia and physical therapy.

With surgery, >80% return to pre injury level of play.


Show References

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Fulcrum test

Posted: 10/1/2017 by Brian Corwell, MD (Emailed: 12/2/2023) (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Morel-Lavall e lesion

Posted: 10/1/2017 by Brian Corwell, MD (Emailed: 12/2/2023) (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Category: Orthopedics

Title: The association between fluoroquinolone use and tendon injury in an adolescent population

Keywords: tendon, antibiotics, tendonitis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/22/2021 by Brian Corwell, MD (Emailed: 12/2/2023) (Updated: 12/2/2023)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

A recent article in Pediatrics attempted to estimate the association between fluoroquinolone use and tendon injury in an adolescent population.

Fluoroquinolones are thought to negatively impact tendons and cartilage in the load-bearing joints of the lower limbs through collagen degradation, necrosis, and disruption of the extracellular matrix.

Population: 4.4 million adolescents aged 12–18 years with filled outpatient fluoroquinolone prescription vs. an oral broad-spectrum antibiotic for comparison.

Fluoroquinolones included ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, and gatifloxacin

Comparator antibiotics included amoxicillin-clavulanate, azithromycin, cefalexin, cefixime, cefdinir, nitrofurantoin, and bactrim.

Outcomes: Primary outcome was 90-day tendon rupture (Achilles, patellar, quadricep, patellar, tibial) identified by diagnosis and procedure codes. Secondary outcome was tendinitis.

Results: The weighted 90-day tendon rupture risk was 13.6 per 100 000 fluoroquinolone-treated adolescents and 11.6 per 100 000 comparator-treated adolescents.

Fluoroquinolone-associated excess risk: 1.9 per 100 000 adolescents; the corresponding number needed to treat to harm was 52 632.

The weighted 90-day tendinitis risk was 200.8 per 100 000 fluoroquinolone-treated adolescents and 178.1 per 100 000 comparator-treated adolescents

Fluoroquinolone-associated excess risk excess risk: 22.7 per 100 000 adolescents; the corresponding number needed to treat to harm was 4405.


The excess risk of tendon rupture associated with fluoroquinolone treatment was extremely small, and these events were rare. On average, 50,000 adolescents would need to be treated with a fluoroquinolone for 1 additional tendon rupture to occur

The excess risk of tendinitis associated with fluoroquinolone treatment though larger was also small.

Besides tendon rupture, other more common potential adverse drug effects may be more important to consider for treatment decision-making, in adolescents without other risk factors for tendon injury.


Show References