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J Emerg Med. 2006 Jul;31(1):23-8.

Selective radiography in 100 patients with suspected shoulder dislocation.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California San Francisco-Fresno, University Medical Center, Fresno, California 93702, USA.


We sought to prospectively validate an algorithm for selective radiography in the Emergency Department (ED) management of patients with suspected shoulder dislocation. Physicians ordered pre- and post-reduction radiographs based on an algorithm incorporating the mechanism of injury, previous dislocations, and the physician's clinical certainty of joint position. Follow-up consisted of telephone calls and chart review. Of 100 patients, 94 had shoulder dislocation, and 59% were recurrent. Thirty percent had both pre- and post-reduction radiographs, 45% had pre- or post-reduction only, and 25% had no shoulder films, yielding an overall 46% reduction in X-ray utilization. Mean ED times were significantly shorter for patients managed without radiographs. On telephone follow-up (76%) and chart review (100%), we found no missed fractures or persistent dislocations. Use of a clinical decision rule for selective radiography reduced the number of radiographs and time spent in the ED, while missing no fractures or dislocations.

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