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Suspected scaphoid fractures. The value of radiographs

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Twenty observers reported independently on the presence or absence of a fracture of the scaphoid on 60 sets of radiographs; these included initial and 2- to 3-week views in patients in whom the outcome was known, normal scaphoids and random copies of these. Analysis of variance of the accuracy of observations revealed that the 2- to 3-week radiographs did not improve diagnostic ability and that this was independent of the experience or seniority of the observer. For normal radiographs, 20% of the observations reported a fracture. Reproducibility of opinion improved with experience but this did not help with accuracy. Radiographs without accurate clinical observation should not determine the management of the suspected scaphoid fracture.

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