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Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017 Nov 10;114(45):757-764. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0757.

The Investigation of Suspected Fracture-a Comparison of Ultrasound With Conventional Imaging.

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Department of General Practice and Family Medicine, Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig; Institute of General Practice and Family Medicine, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale); Institute for Medical Epidemiology, Biometrics and Computer Science, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale); Library of Medicine, University of Leipzig.



Ultrasound imaging can be used to diagnose fractures in patients with acute trauma. Its main advantages over conventional imaging are the absence of radiation exposure and its greater availability.


A systematic search in electronic databases (Medline, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL) was supplemented by a manual search on the Internet and in the reference lists of pertinent publications. The QUADAS-2 instrument was used to assess the quality of the individual studies retrieved. In the metaanalysis, the sensitivity and specificity of the individual studies were pooled.


The available information on the diagnostic accuracy of ultrasound in the detection of fractures compared with that of conventional imaging (x-ray, CT, MRI) in patients with acute non-life-threatening trauma is summarized. The database search yielded 2153 hits, among which there were 48 studies that were suitable for inclusion in this review. The pooled sensitivity and specificity were 0.91 (95% confidence interval [0.90; 0.92]) and 0.94 [0.93; 0.95], although the analyzed studies were markedly heterogeneous (I²: sensitivity 74%, specificity 81%). The sensitivity of ultrasound was higher for the detection of fractures of the humerus, the forearm, the ankle, and the long bones in general, as well as fractures in children, and lower for fractures of the short bones of the hands and feet, and in adults.


Strong evidence supports the use of ultrasound imaging for certain indications in the detection of fractures.

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