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Wrist & Hand

Virtual management of clinically suspected scaphoid fractures

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The aim of this study was to describe the introduction of a virtual pathway for the management of patients with a suspected fracture of the scaphoid, and to report patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and satisfaction following treatment using this service.


All adult patients who presented with a clinically suspected scaphoid fracture that was not visible on radiographs at the time of presentation during a one-year period were eligible for inclusion in the pathway. Demographic details, findings on examination, and routine four-view radiographs at the time of presentation were collected. All radiographs were reviewed virtually by a single consultant hand surgeon, with patient-initiated follow-up on request. PROMs were assessed at a minimum of one year after presentation and included the abbreviated version of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Score (QuickDASH), the EuroQol five-dimension five-level health questionnaire (EQ-5D-5L), the Net Promoter Score (NPS), and return to work.


A total of 221 patients were referred to the virtual pathway. Their mean age was 41 years (range 16 to 87) and there were 99 male patients (45%). A total of 189 patients (86%) were discharged with advice and 19 (9%) were recalled for clinical review: seven with an undisplaced scaphoid fracture, six with another fracture of the hand or wrist, two with a scapholunate ligament injury, and four in whom no abnormality was detected. A total of 13 patients (6%) initiated follow-up with the hand service: no fracture or ligament injury was identified in this group. PROMs were available for 179 patients (81%) at a mean follow-up of 19 months (range 13 to 33). The median QuickDASH score was 2.3 (interquartile range (IQR) 0 to 15.9), the median EQ-5D-5L was 0.85 (IQR 0.73 to 1.00), the NPS was 76, and 173 patients (97%) were satisfied with their treatment. There were no documented cases of symptomatic nonunion one year following injury.


We describe the introduction of a virtual pathway for the management of patients with a suspected scaphoid fracture. We found high levels of patient satisfaction, excellent PROMs, and no detrimental effects in the vast majority of cases.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2022;104-B(6):709–714.

Correspondence should be sent to Paul H. C. Stirling. E-mail:

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