Purpose: Paediatric hand injuries are a frequent reason for acute medical evaluation. Previous studies have reported only fracture rates, surgical injuries or are limited to database diagnosis coding. The average fracture rates and injury distributions across the hand for all mechanical injuries have not been well-described.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all emergent/urgent care visits over 18 months at a US paediatric tertiary hospital with hand injuries recorded anywhere in the encounter. Patient, injury and encounter details were recorded with additional imaging review, categorized and described.
Results: A total of 523 patient visits (0.64% of all encounters) were for mechanical hand trauma. The injury mechanism was 42% crush, 19% jammed, 12% impact, 12% fall on outstretched hand, 7% hyperextension and 8% other/unclear. Crush was responsible for 80% of injuries in patients aged 0 to six years old but only 17% in patients aged 13 to 18 years. Crush resulted in fractures only 26% of the time, while other mechanisms were more likely to fracture (33% to 87%). Border digits were injured more often than others (21% to 23% versus 13% to 17%), and were most commonly fractured in the proximal phalanx (57% to 67% versus 22% to 34% for non-border digits). Providers correctly coded for basic fracture presence in 89.1% of injuries, but 53% of codes were not finger or laterality-specific, and only 15% specified a bony segment demonstrating that International Classification of Diseases-9 coding was nonspecific for injury patterns.
Conclusion: Patients with paediatric hand injuries frequently utilize emergency care and understanding the basic patterns of injury can guide resource utilization and future studies on optimal treatment algorithms in this setting.
Level of Evidence: IV, Prognostic, Case Series.