Accuracy and Interobserver and Intraobserver Reliability of Ultrasound in the Early Diagnosis of Occult Scaphoid Fractures: Diagnostic Criteria and a Way of Interpretation


The purpose of this study was to illustrate the usefulness of ultrasound in the early diagnosis of occult scaphoid fractures. Forty-eight patients with clinical symptoms of scaphoid fracture and negative initial X-rays were examined. All patients underwent ultrasonography in the emergency room (ER). After 14 days, a computed tomography (CT) scan was performed, which confirmed or not the initial suspicion of fracture. Twenty-two patients were found with subperiosteal hematoma, while six also had cortical discontinuity. The sensitivity of ultrasound in the diagnosis of occult scaphoid fractures was 90% and the specificity was 85.7%. The positive prognostic value was 81.8%. The authors support the use of the scaphoid ultrasound only under strict circumstances. If subperiosteal hematoma or cortical discontinuity is present, there is a high likelihood of scaphoid fracture. On the contrary, if the ultrasound is negative and symptoms persist, the patient will require a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging for definitive diagnosis. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 28(1):1–9, 2019)
Key words: cost-effectiveness, diagnosis, occult fractures, scaphoid fractures, subperiostal hematoma, ultrasound

Michael-Alexander Malahias, MD, PhD; Vasileios S. Nikolaou, MD, PhD, MSc; Dimitrios Chytas, MD, PhD; Maria-Kyriaki Kaseta, MD, PhD; and George C. Babis, MD, PhD