To assess the utility of radiographs taken immediately after the application of a cast in the management of pediatric torus (or buckle) fractures and to determine the need for serial radiographs taken at follow-up visits.
Retrospective medical record review; survey questionnaire of a panel of experts.
The pediatric emergency department (PED) and the pediatric orthopedic clinic at an urban, tertiary care hospital.
All children with torus fractures referred to the pediatric orthopedic clinic for follow-up visits between February 1995 and February 1997.
Main Outcome Measures
The number of patients whose postcast studies was obtained in the PED; number of follow-up visits and studies conducted at the pediatric orthopedic clinic; usual regional practices as extracted from a panel of experts by survey questionnaire.
Of 70 patients, 46 (66%) were evaluated by a single, precast study in the PED, and 24 (34%) were evaluated by both precast and postcast studies in the PED. The time range of the first follow-up study was the first to fifth week after the patient's injury. The range of the number of follow-up studies for each patient was 0 to 5. Our cohort's total radiology charges for 70 patients were $27,251. Regional directors of pediatric orthopedic surgery unanimously agreed that postcast studies in the PED are unnecessary. The range of the number of follow-up studies they obtained is 0 to 3 per patient.
Postcast studies of torus fractures are unnecessary. Multiple radiographs taken during follow-up visits, especially early in the healing process, do not change fracture management. Relying on the clinical examination, perhaps combined with a single follow-up study, is a more appropriate regimen for the management of pediatric torus fractures and translates into a cost savings of over $10,000 for our 70 patients.