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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2010 Feb;92(2):189-95. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.92B2.22923.

Orthopaedic aspects of paediatric non-accidental injury.

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The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London E1 1BB, UK.


Non-accidental injury (NAI) in children includes orthopaedic trauma throughout the skeleton. Fractures with soft-tissue injuries constitute the majority of manifestations of physical abuse in children. Fracture and injury patterns vary with age and development, and NAI is intrinsically related to the mobility of the child. No fracture in isolation is pathognomonic of NAI, but specific abuse-related injuries include multiple fractures, particularly at various stages of healing, metaphyseal corner and bucket-handle fractures and fractures of ribs. Isolated or multiple rib fractures, irrespective of location, have the highest specificity for NAI. Other fractures with a high specificity for abuse include those of the scapula, lateral end of the clavicle, vertebrae and complex skull fractures. Injuries caused by NAI constitute a relatively small proportion of childhood fractures. They may be associated with significant physical and psychological morbidity, with wide- ranging effects from deviations in normal developmental progression to death. Orthopaedic surgeons must systematically assess, recognise and act on the indicators for NAI in conjunction with the paediatric multidisciplinary team.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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