Detecting suspected scaphoid fractures? the role of different imaging modalities within a district general hospital during the pandemic


  • Tihami Mansoor Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, University Hospitals Derby and Burton, Belvedere Road, Burton on Trent, United Kingdom
  • Hamzah Khan Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, University Hospitals Derby and Burton, Belvedere Road, Burton on Trent, United Kingdom
  • Gur Sidhu Department of Orthopaedics, University Hospitals Lewisham, London, United Kingdom
  • Neil Ashwood Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, University Hospitals Derby and Burton, Belvedere Road, Burton on Trent, United Kingdom; University of Wolverhampton, Research Institute, Wulfruna St, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
  • Christos Kitsis Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, University Hospitals Derby and Burton, Belvedere Road, Burton on Trent, United Kingdom



Scaphoid fracture, Wrist injury, Wrist pain


Background: This study evaluates the effectiveness of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) versus computerised tomography (CT) scans for persistent wrist pain at the thumb base following injury in adults and children during covid. This was part of a pathway introduced as access to MRI scan was limited.

Methods: Patients were identified as having possible scaphoid fractures within the emergency department but had no fracture identified on initial imaging over a 3-month period. These were triaged to a scaphoid pathway during the covid pandemic from a virtual clinic. Patients were reviewed clinically and radiographically within the hand clinic using further imaging with CT or MRI scan.

Results: During the study time 45 patients with scaphoid fractures were detected on initial radiography in ED and 187 with suspected scaphoid fractures were selected for further review. Ninety (48%) were referred to the hand clinic where 2 (1%) scaphoid fractures were diagnosed on a second radiograph and ninety-seven (52%) were to be seen in an upper limb clinic where 2 (1%) further fractures were detected. 92% of scaphoid fractures were identified on radiography either in ED or orthopaedic clinic. Of the remaining 178 with two negative radiographs further imaging was requested in 45 cases (25%). Pathology was found in 17 (58%) MRI scans and in 7 (39%) CT scans.

Conclusions: Imaging needs to be timely to enable effective treatment. Obtaining MRI scans while diagnostically superior is not always achievable especially in times of resource depletion. Back up pathways using alternative imaging can be effective.


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