I have recently been instructed by new client who sustained a scaphoid fracture that remained diagnosed for many months. Scaphoid fractures are very common and often occur if you fall onto your outstretched hand. However, these fractures are very easy to miss because imaging is often unrevealing.
The delay in diagnosis can have a variety of adverse outcomes that include non-union (therefore requiring surgery that could otherwise have been avoided), delayed union, decreased grip strength, decreased range of motion and osteoarthritis.
How to diagnose a scaphoid fracture?
1. Go to A&E if you suspect you may have sustained a scaphoid fracture.
2. The doctor will send you for an x-ray (however it is common for the fracture to remain undetected);
3. The doctor will perform the 'anatomical snuffbox' test. There is a specific point in your wrist where you are likely to be tender if you have a scaphoid fracture.
4. Does your wrist feel painful when moved in certain directions?
5. If your radiology comes back as negative, the A&E doctor will ask you to re-attend for a further x-ray. In some cases, a scaphoid fracture will not show up on an X-ray until around 10 to 14 days after the initial injury. At this time, the healing process will have started in the bone, which will help the fracture site to show up.
6. If the radiology is still inconclusive, you may be sent for a CT or an MRI scan.
My advice for those who may suspect a scaphoid fracture is seek medical attention as the implications are very serious if your fracture remains undiagnosed.Amy Bond is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email email@example.com and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.