Paper| Volume 28, ISSUE 7, P433-435, September 1997

Reliability of fat-pad sign in radial head/neck fractures of the elbow

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      In a prospective study at a single centre between August 1995 and March 1996, 193 patients with elbow injuries were studied. Standard radiographs of the elbows were taken. A total of 181 X-rays were reported by one person concerning the presence or absence of fractures and fat-pad signs. The radiographs were analysed and positive predictive values were calculated for the presence of the fat-pad sign with radial head/neck fractures. The sensitivity for radial head/neck fracture is 85.4 per cent, while the specificity is only 50 per cent. The fat-pad sign must be used cautiously as an indicator of radial head/neck fractures; its absence is a more reliable indicator of the absence of a radial head/neck fracture.
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