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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Jan 29. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001691. [Epub ahead of print]

Success Rates for Reduction of Pediatric Distal Radius and Ulna Fractures by Emergency Physicians.

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University of Arizona College of Medicine.
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Phoenix, AZ.



Emergency physicians are trained in urgent fracture reduction. Many hospitals lack readily available in-house orthopedic coverage.


The aim of this study was to determine success rates for reduction of pediatric distal radius or ulna fractures by emergency department (ED) physicians.


We conducted a retrospective study of children younger than 18 years presenting to a large, urban, freestanding children's hospital from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2010, with forearm fracture. Exclusions included open fracture, those requiring immediate surgical intervention, or additional fractures. The primary end point was the proportion of successful closed forearm fracture reductions in the ED, as defined by orthopedic follow-up.


All reductions were performed by a board-certified/eligible pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) physician or PEM fellow. Two hundred ninety-five fractures were reduced in the ED during the study period. Mean age was 8.27 years (median, 8 years; range, 1-16 years), and males comprised 69.2% (n = 204). A total of 222 fractures (76%) were of the distal forearm, and 70 involved the midshaft (24%). Orthopedic follow-up was completed in 77.3%. A total of 33 patients (11%) required remanipulation; 24 in the distal forearm fracture group (22 closed reductions, 2 open reductions with internal fixation) versus 9 in the midshaft group (7 closed reductions, 2 open reductions with internal fixation) (P = 0.948).


The literature reveals 7% to 39% of children with fracture reductions performed in the ED by orthopedic surgeons/residents require remanipulation. Our rate of 11% is consistent within that range. With training, PEM physicians have similar success rates as orthopedists in forearm fracture reductions.

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