Diagnostic accuracy of preoperative clinical examination in upper limb injuries

Dehghani, Mohammad; Shemshaki, Hamidreza; Eshaghi, Mohammad Amin; Teimouri, Mehdi
October 2011
Journal of Emergencies, Trauma & Shock;Oct2011, Vol. 4 Issue 4, p461
Academic Journal
Background: Injuries in hands and forearms may cause significant discomfort and disability. Aim: To evaluate the accuracy of preoperative clinical examination in depicting lesions caused by penetrating wounds of hands or forearms. Setting and Design: This prospective study was conducted from August 2006 to September 2009 at Kashani University Hospital, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran. Materials and Methods: Two hundred and fifty patients with clean penetrating injury to the hand/forearm were enrolled in this study. After patient's data registration, a careful clinical examination and routine exploration without expansion of wound were done by an orthopedic resident. Each tendon was tested at each joint level. Nerves were evaluated with a two-point discrimination test, and arteries were tested with palpable pulses. Surgical exploration was done by a single hand surgeon in operation room. Accuracy of clinical examination was compared to surgical examination. Results: During the study period, 180 (72%) males and 70 (28%) females with mean age of 28±4 years participated. The preoperative examination showed a predominance of the volar zone IV injuries followed by volar zone II, III, thumb zone II, volar zone V and thumb zone III. Despite the enough accuracy of preoperative examinations in dorsal side injuries of hands and forearms (error rate = 8.3%), the preoperative examinations significantly underestimated the amount of damage to soft tissues on the volar side of hands and forearms (error rate = 14%). Conclusions: The precise surgical evaluations should be considered in patients with penetrating injury to the hand or forearm, especially in those with volar side injuries.


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