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Injury. 2014 Mar;45(3):583-5. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2013.10.016. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Ankle injury manipulation before or after X-ray--does it influence success?

Author information

1
Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Haslingden Road, Blackburn, Lancashire BB2 3HH, United Kingdom. Electronic address: grhastie@doctors.org.uk.
2
Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Haslingden Road, Blackburn, Lancashire BB2 3HH, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Many acute, deformed ankle injuries are manipulated in the Emergency Department (ED) before X-rays are taken to confirm the nature of the injury. This often occurs in the absence of neurovascular or skin compromise without consideration of other possible injuries such as talar, subtalar or calcaneal injuries. We believe that an inappropriate manipulation of an unknown injury pattern may place the patient at increased risk. A balance needs to be struck between making the correct diagnosis and preventing any further neurovascular or skin compromise. We prospectively reviewed 197 patients admitted to the Royal Blackburn Hospital with acute ankle injuries. Their ED notes were reviewed, specifically assessing whether a manipulation was performed; if so, was it performed before X-rays and the documented reasons. A total of 90 ankle fractures were manipulated and 31 of these were performed before X-ray. One manipulation was performed for vascular compromise, one for nerve symptoms, three for critical skin and 25 for undocumented reasons. Outcomes (re-manipulation, delay to surgery and need for open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF)) were compared between injuries manipulated before or after X-ray. Re-manipulation was found to be significant (44% before X-ray vs. 18% after X-ray; chi-squared test: p=0.03; relative risk (RR)=2.72; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.15-6.44). Delay to surgery and need for ORIF were not statistically different. We conclude that performing ankle injury X-rays before an attempt at manipulation, in the absence of neurovascular deficit or critical skin, may constitute best practice as it provides a better assessment of fracture configuration, guides initial reduction and significantly lowers the risk of re-manipulation and the potential risks associated with sedation without delaying surgery.

KEYWORDS:

Ankle fracture dislocation; Manipulation

PMID:
24268190
DOI:
10.1016/j.injury.2013.10.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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