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Buckle fractures are the most common wrist fractures in children, yet there is little literature regarding their management. This study examined the management of these fractures and attitudes toward their immobilization by pediatric emergency department (ED) physicians and pediatric orthopedic surgeons.
A standardized survey was mailed to all pediatric orthopedic surgeons and pediatric ED physicians at 8 Canadian children’s hospitals.
Eighty-seven percent of physicians responded, including 33 of 39 pediatric orthopedic surgeons and 84 of 96 pediatric ED physicians. Sixty-four percent of respondents believe that wrist buckle fractures always need to be immobilized; pain control was most frequently cited for this belief. Physicians who did not believe that all buckle fractures need to be immobilized indicated that these fractures are inherently stable and have a low risk of refracture. Forty-eight percent of the orthopedic surgeons prefer below-elbow casts, 30% prefer a combination (splint and cast) and 12% prefer backslabs. Sixty percent of ED physicians “usually or always” use casts and 31% “usually or always” use backslabs. Although there was variation among the orthopedic surgeons regarding the recommended length of immobilization, most (70%) recommended 2 to 4 weeks, although some (12%) treated only until pain free. ED physicians showed greater diversity regarding length of immobilization.
Although many physicians believe that wrist buckle fractures need to be immobilized, a significant number do not. There is substantial variability in the type and length of immobilization used. This variability suggests that the optimal management strategy for wrist buckle fractures is unclear and should be determined in future prospective studies.
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