Acromioclavicular Joint Injuries Illustrations

Acromioclavicular joint (AC) injuries are associated with damage to the joint and surrounding structures.

ANATOMY

The acromioclavicular joint, together with the sternoclavicular joint, connects the upper limb to the skeleton.

The support of the acromioclavicular joint is provided by the ligament and muscle surrounding the joint. The capsule surrounding the acromioclavicular joint is strengthened by the acromioclavicular ligaments. The joints are acromioclavicular ligaments that provide horizontal stability.

The coracoclavicular ligaments consist of two parts, the lateral trapezoid, and the medial conoid, and connect the distal lower clavicle to the coracoid process of the scapula. The coracoclavicular ligament is the main stabilizing ligament of the upper limb.

Acromioclavicular joint injuries occur at all ages, but are most common in the 20-40 year age group, 5x times more common in men than women. It is a common contact sports injury in young male athletes (1).

There are two main mechanisms of acromioclavicular joint injury; direct and indirect (2). A direct blow or fall to the shoulder results in a superior force on the acromion with restricted clavicular movement in the joint, the acromion is forcibly pushed down and medially relative to the clavicle. It can occur indirectly as a result of a fall on the hand or elbow, causing the humerus to be pushed into the acromion, resulting in lower-grade injuries that typically protect the coracoclavicular ligament.

Imaging can be used to classify acromioclavicular injuries and is the most widely used Rockwood classification. 

ROCKWOOD CLASSIFICATION

References and Further Reading

  1. Dyan V. Flores, Paola Kuenzer Goes, Catalina Mejía Gómez et-al. Imaging of the Acromioclavicular Joint: Anatomy, Function, Pathologic Features, and Treatment. (2020) RadioGraphics. 40 (5): 1355-1382.
  2. Vanhoenacker F, Maas M, Gielen JL. Imaging of Orthopedic Sports Injuries. (2006)
  3. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine, A Comprehensive Study Guide 9th edition. ( 2019)
  4. Rockwood classification of acromioclavicular joint injury

  5. Acromioclavicular injury

 

Cite this article as: Murat Yazici, Turkey, "Acromioclavicular Joint Injuries Illustrations," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, June 30, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/06/30/acromioclavicular-joint-injuries-illustrations/, date accessed: December 4, 2021
 

iEM Image Feed: Scaphoid fracture

iem image feed
87 - Figure 6 - Fracture of the proximal pole of the scaphoid
  • Falling on an Out-Stretched Hand (FOOSH) is the most common mechanism of wrist injuries, with the wrist in extension.
  • Immature, weaker epiphyseal plate or metaphysis of the radius in children are more likely to sustain injuries, sparing the still-cartilaginous carpal bones.
  • Young adults with active lifestyles are more likely to be injured with greater forces.
  • In the elderly, especially in women with some degree of osteoporosis, distal radial metaphysis is more fragile resulting in Colles fracture.
  • “Anatomic snuffbox’’ on the dorsum of the wrist is an important landmark. Because the scaphoid is palpable with its triangle by styloid, extensor pollicis brevis tendon and the extensor pollicis longus tendon. Tenderness in this area may indicate a scaphoid fracture. The image above shows scaphoid fracture.
  • The examination should include assessment of neurovascular status motor and sensory function of the median, radial and ulnar nerves. Because acute median nerve compression is a common occurrence, the sensation of thumb and index fingers is important, especially with severely displaced fractures. In all injuries to the wrist, radial and ulnar pulses should be evaluated.

Further reading

Cite this article as: iEM Education Project Team, "iEM Image Feed: Scaphoid fracture," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, May 12, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/05/12/iem-image-feed-scaphoid-fracture/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

iEM Image Feed: Viscus perforation

iem image feed

A 35 years old previously healthy gentleman presented to the Emergency Department with a sudden-onset severe and diffuse abdominal pain which started an hour ago. Chest X-ray was ordered; what do you see?

Abdominal pain is one of the commonest ED presentations. Like acute MI, AAA rupture, or DKA, viscus perforation should be in our worst-case scenario list. The image shows free air under the diaphragm.

The expected hints for this type of patient are a history of peptic/duodenal ulcer disease, severe abdominal pain that patients do not want to move, and a rigid and very tender abdomen, which any palpation gives much pain to the patient. 

We need to remember that this situation is a surgical emergency. There are some steps that we need to do immediately for this patient.

  1. Proper history and examination
  2. Attaching to monitor and following vital signs and intervene if necessary to normalize them
  3. Opening 2 large-bore IV lines and fluid resuscitation as needed
  4. IV pain medication
  5. IV antibiotics
  6. Stopping oral ingestion and placing NG tube
  7. Contact surgery
  8. Sending basic biochemistry lab, coagulation profile, blood type and cross, CBC, which will be asked by surgery soon. 
  9. Arranging transfer to the OR
887.1 - viscus perforation

Abdominal pain is one of the commonest ED presentations. Like acute MI, AAA rupture, or DKA, viscus perforation should be in our worst-case scenario list. The image shows free air under the diaphragm.

887.2 - viscus perforation

The expected hints for this type of patient are a history of peptic/duodenal ulcer disease, severe abdominal pain that patients do not want to move, and a rigid and very tender abdomen, which any palpation gives much pain to the patient. 

We need to remember that this situation is a surgical emergency. There are some steps that we need to do immediately for this patient.

  1. Proper history and examination
  2. Attaching to monitor and following vital signs and intervene if necessary to normalize them
  3. Opening 2 large-bore IV lines and fluid resuscitation as needed
  4. IV pain medication
  5. IV antibiotics
  6. Stopping oral ingestion and placing NG tube
  7. Contact surgery
  8. Sending basic biochemistry lab, coagulation profile, blood type and cross, CBC, which will be asked by surgery soon. 
  9. Arranging transfer to the OR

Additional reading

Cite this article as: iEM Education Project Team, "iEM Image Feed: Viscus perforation," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, April 14, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/04/14/viscus-perforation/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

iEM Image Feed: Plateau Fracture

iem image feed

A 60-year-old man known to have DM type 2 was brought by the family as a camel hit his knee. He was not able to walk on it at the scene and in ED. It was swollen with no open wound.

Tips
Although patients come with isolated injuries, we always have to make sure that they do not have other injury findings. Therefore, approaching systematically to the patient is important. At this moment, please remember primary and secondary surveys of multiple trauma. The animal attacks may create multiple injuries on patients, and they should be evaluated as multiply injured patients. After you ruled our multiple or life, organ, extremity threatening injury, you can deep dive into isolated injuries. In this case, knee injury after a direct hit.

Of course, inspection and palpation are essential in every extremity injury. Evaluating the patient for neurovascular problems and range of motions are applied in almost every extremity trauma. But sometimes, clinical presentations or findings can be subtle and you may need a better tool. In these case, we recommend using Ottawa Knee Rules.

The image shows tibia plateau fracture on AP knee x-ray.

885.1 plateau fracture
885.2 plateau fracture copy

Additional reading

Cite this article as: iEM Education Project Team, "iEM Image Feed: Plateau Fracture," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, April 7, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/04/07/plateau-fracture/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

iEM Image Feed: Radius and Ulna Fracture

iem image feed radius and ulna fracture
radius and ulna fracture

Her father brought a 9-year-old girl due to deformed right extremity. He was playing at home and fell from a hight on his hand. No open wounds. No past medical and surgical. Vaccination: up to date.

Examination: radial pulse is intact. He can move the fingers but with limitation due to pain. Sensation is normal. The X-ray showed both radius and ulna fracture. The patient underwent procedural sedation with IV ketamine, and the reduction was made with ortho oncall.

Cite this article as: iEM Education Project Team, "iEM Image Feed: Radius and Ulna Fracture," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, March 31, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/03/31/radius-and-ulna-fracture/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

iEM Image Feed: Humerus Shaft Fracture

image feed
humerus fracture
humerus fracture 2

The EMS brought a 39-year man as his right upper extremity was stuck in a machine in a factory where he works. He came with deformity and severe pain in his right arm. Pain management was given. He received tetanus toxoid as well. X-ray shows oblique humeral shaft fracture with shortening and angulation. He underwent procedural sedation to reduce it.

Cite this article as: iEM Education Project Team, "iEM Image Feed: Humerus Shaft Fracture," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, March 17, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/03/17/humerus-shaft-fracture/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

iEM Image Feed: Mandibular Fracture

image feed
mandibular fracture

A 39-year-old woman presented to ED with mouth pain. She was cleaning the bathroom and suddenly slipped and fell. She hit her mandible with the floor. She was able to speak minimally—no avulsed teeth. She had teeth 23 and 24 subluxations.

This is a high energy impact trauma. Ensure that you evaluate the patient systematically for trauma and not forget to pay attention to a neck injury. Violence, assault, partner abuse should be in your mind. Specific mandibular and panoramic imaging may give excellent views for diagnosis. In some cases, CT may be necessary to evaluate the maxillofacial injury. Besides, know the teeth universal numbering. If you see this kind of damage in the examination, always rule out an alveolar fracture.

Cite this article as: iEM Education Project Team, "iEM Image Feed: Mandibular Fracture," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, March 3, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/03/03/mandibular-fracture/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

NEXUS Criteria

nexus criteria
Cite this article as: Keerthi Gondy, USA, "NEXUS Criteria," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 6, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/06/nexus-criteria/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

The First Nexus Criteria Reference

Hoffman JR, Wolfson AB, Todd K, Mower WR. Selective cervical spine radiography in blunt trauma: methodology of the National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS). Ann Emerg Med. 1998;32(4):461-469. doi:10.1016/s0196-0644(98)70176-3

Salter-Harris Fractures

salter harris

Case Presentation

You are a medical student doing your first clinical shift as part of your Emergency Medicine rotation. A 9-year-old boy is brought in by his father after an injury to his left hand approximately 1 hour back. As explained by the father, the child was playing at home with his elder brother when his left index finger became caught in between a door that had quickly slammed shut. Following the injury, the child was reported to be crying due to severe pain, but had no lacerations or other associated injuries. He was rushed to the hospital and presented in the ED as an anxious, weeping boy who held out his left index finger and pointed to the tip as the region of maximal pain. Mild swelling was noted at the distal interphalangeal joint as well as at the tip of the affected finger. After appropriate analgesia was initiated, the child was sent to the Radiology department for X-ray imaging. The images obtained by the department are shown below in Figures 1.1 and 1.2.

Figure 1.1
Figure 1.1
Figure 1.2
Figure 1.2

Findings

Due to the lack of ideal positioning and suboptimal cooperation from the child and his parent, the radiology technician reports back to you stating that the best images they could obtain were the ones displayed above. Although unclear, you can confidently identify a small break in the bone at the base of the distal phalanx. You mention to the father that you see a fracture on the X-ray and report back to your Attending Physician. 

The Attending Physician decides to take a break from his morning coffee and utters the dreaded question: “What kind of fracture is this?” You try to recall a lecture you had about Salter-Harris fractures but cannot recall the classification of these fractures. As if on cue, the father of the patient finds you shuffling your weight in front of the Attending Physician and asks: “You said he has a fracture, will he have to get surgery for his finger?”

“What kind of fracture is this?”

Salter-Harris Fractures

Salter-Harris Fractures refer to fractures that involve the growth plate (physis). Therefore, these fractures are applicable specifically to the pediatric population, occurring most often during periods of rapid growth (growth spurts) when the growth plate is at its weakest, close to age ranges where children tend to participate in high-risk activities (11-12 in girls and 12-14 in boys) [1].

Originally described in 1963 by Dr Robert Salter and Dr Robert Harris [2], the now infamous Salter-Harris fractures are classified by the region of bone that is affected. Figure 2 displays the gross anatomy of a normal distal phalanx similar to the picture we examined in the X-ray, labelled to reflect the different areas of the bone relative to each other. The types of fractures that can occur are outlined below.

SALTER HARRIS ANATOMY
Figure 2
  • Type I Salter-Harris Fractures (Slipped)

    Type I fractures occur when a longitudinal force is applied across the physis, resulting in a displacement (“slip”) of the epiphysis from the metaphysis. Though relatively infrequent (5%), suspicion of this fracture is raised when the epiphysis is seen to either be displaced to the side of its original position relative to the metaphysis or when the gap between the two segments is widened.

Salter-Harris Type I
Salter-Harris Type I
  • Type II Salter-Harris Fractures (Above)

    Type II fractures are the most common (75%) of the Salter-Harris fractures. As with our patient above, this fracture only involves structures “Above” the epiphysis (Metaphysis + Physis/growth plate) with virtually no fracture or displacement of the epiphysis itself. Fortunately, type I and most type II fractures can be managed conservatively with cast immobilization and splinting.

Salter-Harris Type II
Salter-Harris Type II
  • Type III Salter-Harris Fractures (Lower)

    Type III fractures involve both the physis and the epiphysis. Although relatively uncommon (10%), the involvement of the epiphysis and consequent disruption of the growth plate makes this an intra-articular fracture that usually requires surgical fixation.

Salter-Harris Type III
Salter-Harris Type III
  • Type IV Salter-Harris Fractures (Through)

    Continuing the trend of worse outcomes with higher classification types, Type IV fractures involve all three layers (metaphysis, physis and epiphysis) and thus harbor more adverse outcomes and risks, with management primarily consisting of operative internal fixation. Similar to Type III fractures, this is an intra-articular fracture and also occurs at a similar rate of 10%.

Salter-Harris Type IV
Salter-Harris Type IV
  • Type V Salter-Harris Fractures (Rammed/Crushed)

    The rarest of all the Salter-Harris fractures, type V fractures occur due to high impact compression of the growth plate. Potential disruption of the germinal matrix and compromised vascular supply to the growth plate can lead to growth arrest.

Salter-Harris Type V
Salter-Harris Type V

A convenient method to recall the Salter-Harris classifications is outlined below using the mnemonic “SALTR”

Salter-Harris Classification
Salter-Harris Classification

Case Resolution

You ascertain the patient’s fracture to be a type II Salter-Harris fracture, justifying your answer to the Attending Physician by pointing out that the affected region in the X-ray is limited to the metaphysis and physis with no epiphyseal involvement. Recognizing the potential for parental misconceptions surrounding the diagnosis of fractures in pediatric patients [3], you approach the father and explain that, though there is a fracture present, there is likely no need for any surgical intervention. You advise that the left index finger will be immobilized using a splint and further elaborate on the unlikelihood of this injury to manifest any long-term developmental or growth arrest in the affected region.

References and Further Reading

  1. Levine RH, Foris LA, Nezwek TA, et al. Salter Harris Fractures. [Updated 2019 Aug 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan
  2. Salter, Robert B.; Harris, W. Robert: Injuries Involving the Epiphyseal Plate, The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS): April 1963 – Volume 45 – Issue 3 – p 587-622
  3. Sofu H, Gursu S, Kockara N, Issin A, Oner A, Camurcu Y. Pediatric fractures through the eyes of parents: an observational study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015;94(2):e407. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000000407
Cite this article as: Mohammad Anzal Rehman, UAE, "Salter-Harris Fractures," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, December 23, 2019, https://iem-student.org/2019/12/23/salter-harris-fractures/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

I woke up like that! – Bilateral Shoulder Pain

bilateral shoulder pain

Case Presentation

A 35-year-old male presented to fast track complaining of bilateral severe shoulder pain for one-day duration. He reports waking up like that, and not being able to move his shoulders much due to the pain.

He denied any recent falls, injuries, or direct trauma to his shoulders. He also denied any fever, rashes, skin changes, headaches, numbness or weakness. No further findings found upon review of systems. Past medical history revealed a history of epilepsy. Otherwise, he’s not on any medications and denies any known allergies.

Physical examination showed slim male, with flattened anterior shoulders and normal inspection of the skin overlying his shoulders. He had internally rotated upper extremities, flexed elbows, and arms held in adduction. Upon attempts on any passive or active test of the range of motion, he experienced reluctance and pain on external rotation or abduction of his shoulders. Bilateral Shoulder X-rays were obtained.

shoulder dislocation and fracture 1
shoulder dislocation and fracture 2

This patient had bilateral posterior shoulder dislocation, with associated fractures.

    • Posterior shoulder dislocations make up 2-4% of shoulder dislocations.
    • May go undiagnosed and often missed on physical exam and imaging
    • Epileptic seizures or electrical shocks, sports injuries are the most common causes.
    • Subtle signs on AP X-Ray include:
        • Light Bulb Sign: Fixed internal rotation of the humeral head, makes the greater tuberosity anterior, giving a symmetrical appearance of the humeral head, that looks like a light bulb.
        • Empty Glenoid Sign: Humeral Head and Glenoid fossa widened articular space
        • Trough Sign: Vertical Line on AP, can indicate compression fracture of the humeral head medially.
    • In suspected Posterior Shoulder Dislocations, you should always get multiple views, including Anterior-Posterior (AP), scapular (Y), and Axillary Views.
    • Rounded posterior shoulder.
    • Prominent coracoid and acromion.
    • Palpable posterior humeral head.
    • Flattened anterior shoulder contour.
    • Neurovascular injuries
    • Rotator cuff tears
    • Osteonecrosis of the humeral head
    • Recurrent posterior shoulder instability or re-dislocation
    • Joint stiffness and post-traumatic osteoarthritis
    • You need to evaluate each case separately. The cases like this patient, with associated fractures, can complicate your management, and hence consulting orthopedic services would be advised, as surgical interventions should be evaluated.
    • If closed reduction fails, usually open reduction is pondered by subspecialty, especially in cases with extensive damage to the humeral head.
    • In cases with no associated fractures, the approach is the reduction of the dislocation. Most of them would require procedural sedation and analgesia.
    • Consider discussing options of procedural sedation and analgesia, with or without intraarticular blocks with your attending, for better and successful procedures, and minimal pain for your patient. The most convenient procedure options should also be discussed with patients, and consent should be taken. 
    • Patients would require pre and post-reduction neurovascular examination and X-rays.
    • Make sure your patient is examined again after the procedure, assessing the stability of the joint for regained full range of motion. 
    • Shoulder immobilization and follow up care plans with orthopedics services should be arranged.
    • Don’t forget, patients with known epilepsy, non-adherence or uncontrolled seizures have to be evaluated as well, and referred to appropriate neurology evaluation.

Case Reflections

  • Bilateral shoulder dislocations are rare and of these, bilateral posterior shoulder dislocations are more prevalent than bilateral anterior shoulder dislocations.
  • Bilateral fracture-dislocation is even rarer, with a few cases reported in the literature.
  • In the rare case of an asymmetrical bilateral dislocation, attention may be distracted to the more evident lesion, which is the anterior dislocation. This may lead to delayed diagnosis, especially in an unconscious patient in a post-ictal state.
  • In the present case, open reduction and internal fixation was performed.

References and Further Reading

  1. Roberts & Hedges Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine (6th ed) 2014. Philadelphia. Elsevier Saunders Inc. – Chapter 49
  2. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide (7th ed) 2011. New York. McGraw Hill Companies Inc. – Chapter 268
  3. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice (8th ed) 2014. Philadelphia. Elsevier Saunders Inc. – Chapter 53
  4. Wikem – Posterior Shoulder dislocation: https://www.wikem.org/wiki/Posterior_shoulder_dislocation
  5. Canadiem – Posterior Shoulder Dislocation: Radiographic Evidence : https://canadiem.org/posterior-shoulder-dislocation-radiographic-evidence/ 
  6. Meena S, Saini P, Singh V, Kumar R, Trikha V. Bilateral anterior shoulder dislocation. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013;4(2):499–501. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.117003S – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783813/
  7. Sharma A, Jindal S, Narula MS, Garg S, Sethi A. Bilateral Asymmetrical Fracture Dislocation of Shoulder with Rare Combination of Injuries after Epileptic Seizure: A Case Report. Malays Orthop J. 2017;11(1):74–76. doi:10.5704/MOJ.1703.011 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5393121/

Acknowledgement

Credit and acknowledgment for Dr. Eelaf Elhassan for sharing the case.

Cite this article as: Shaza Karrar, UAE, "I woke up like that! – Bilateral Shoulder Pain," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, December 13, 2019, https://iem-student.org/2019/12/13/bilateral-shoulder-pain/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

You may like to read these articles too

Lover’s Fracture

A 35-year-old construction worker was brought in by the ambulance to the Emergency Department. He was reported to have fallen from scaffolding at the height of approximately 4 meters and landed onto the concrete floor below feet first. He was found conscious by paramedics but in obvious pain, holding his right leg. Upon initial examination in the ED, the patient remains vitally stable but complains of severe, persistent pain in his right ankle and heel. After adequate analgesia, an X-ray of the right ankle and foot revealed signs of a calcaneal "Lover’s" fracture (Figure 1).

Figure 1
Figure 1: Image courtesy of Annelies van der Plas, and J.L. Bloem - http://www.startradiology.com/internships/general-surgery/ankle/x-ankle/

Calcaneal Fractures

Before we begin our discussion on calcaneal fractures, it is important to highlight the major anatomical structures visible on a standard X-ray of the ankle and foot.

Figure 2
calcaneus and foot anatomy

Figure 2 shows a lateral x-ray of the right ankle, demonstrating the calcaneus as the bone – commonly referred to as the heel – that makes up the majority of the hindfoot.

As would be expected, the size and position of the calcaneus predispose the bone to various forms of injury. A calcaneal fracture is most often sustained after a road traffic accident or a fall from significant height onto the feet as was the case with our patient. Due to the mechanism of injury, it is often colloquially dubbed as “Lover’s fracture” or the “Don Juan fracture”(1).

Epidemiology

Among fractures of the hindfoot, calcaneal fractures comprise 50-60% of all tarsal bone fractures (2). These fractures are usually intra-articular (3) and occur more commonly in young men aged between 20 and 40 years. Diseases which decrease bone density, such as osteoporosis, invariably increase the risk for development of the fracture when injury occurs.

Patient evaluation

Patients with calcaneal fractures will often present in severe pain, though they may not always be able to localize the exact source for their pain. Swelling at the ankle or heel along with bruising (ecchymosis) can also be expected. Due to the mechanism of fall, injury usually occurs bilaterally. Most patients are unable to bear any weight onto the affected limb.

The lower extremity or extremities in question should undergo a thorough neurovascular exam, as diminished pulses distal to the injury (dorsalis pedis) could indicate arterial compromise and mandate aggressive investigation with angiography or Doppler scanning. Though the gold standard for diagnosing calcaneal fractures remains a CT scan, a plain film X-ray is usually obtained first which should include an Antero-Posterior (AP), a lateral, and an oblique view.

Bohler’s Angle and Critical Angle of Gissane

Historically, physicians would measure Bohler’s angle and the critical angle of Gissane in cases where a calcaneal fracture was not clearly evident on a plain X-ray. Outlined in Figure 3, a calcaneal fracture would be suspected if Bohler’s angle was below 20 degrees or the critical angle of Gissane was noted to be more than 140 degrees. Bohler’s angle was found to be a lot more diagnostically reliable when compared to the critical angle of Gissane (4). However, both these methods of diagnosis are now considered obsolete and the same research that studied that utility of the angles found that Emergency Physicians were able to accurately identify calcaneal fractures approximately 98% of the time without the measurement of either angle.

Figure 3
853 - bohler angle - calcaneus
854 - Gissane angle- calcaneus

Figure 3- Bohler’s Angle and Critical angle of Gissane

Management

The goal of initial management in the Emergency Department is centered on adequate pain relief, immobilization and wound care (including antibiotics when there are signs of a contaminated wound). [See the link for open fractures and antibiotic choices.]

An important point to note is that the mechanism of injury in calcaneal fractures (namely fall from height) is a form of axial loading. The energy from landing on the ground will often be transmitted up through the body, usually to the spine causing compression fractures of the vertebrae. The patient, however, may not complain about pain in other areas due to the overwhelming and distracting pain in the calcaneus. Therefore, all calcaneal fractures should be managed with a high index of suspicion for associated injuries.

Other potential complications include compartment syndrome, wound infection, malunion and osteomyelitis. All patients diagnosed to have calcaneal fractures should be managed by a multidisciplinary team that includes an Orthopedic Surgeon to ensure definitive management and repair of the fracture.

Take Home Points

  • High energy impact with axial loading, usually from a road traffic accident or a fall from height should raise suspicion of a calcaneal fracture.

  • Perform a thorough evaluation of the site of injury and suspect associated injuries (check the spine and remember to check the other foot for concomitant injury).

  • Maintain adequate analgesia (these fractures hurt!) and involve the Orthopedic Surgeon as soon as the diagnosis is made.

References and Further Reading

  1. Lee P, Hunter TB, Taljanovic M. Musculoskeletal colloquialisms: how did we come up with these names? Radiographics. 2004;24 (4): 1009-27. doi:10.1148/rg.244045015
  2. Davis D, Newton EJ. Calcaneus Fractures. [Updated 2019 Mar 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan
  3. Jiménez-Almonte JH, King JD, Luo TD, Aneja A, Moghadamian E. Classifications in Brief: Sanders Classification of Intraarticular Fractures of the Calcaneus. Clin. Orthop. Relat. Res. 2019 Feb;477(2):467-471
  4. Jason R. K., Eric A. G., Gail H. B., Curt B. H. & Frank L. Boehler’s angle and the critical angle of gissane are of limited use in diagnosing calcaneus fractures in the ED. American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 24, 423–427 (2006)
Cite this article as: Mohammad Anzal Rehman, UAE, "Lover’s Fracture," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, June 28, 2019, https://iem-student.org/2019/06/28/lovers-fracture/, date accessed: December 4, 2021

A 28-year-old man presents to the ED with left ankle pain

by Stacey Chamberlain

A 28-year-old man presents to the ED with left ankle pain after twisting his ankle playing basketball. He is able to bear weight and notes pain and swelling to the lateral aspect of the ankle (he points to just below the lateral malleolus). He denies weakness, numbness, or tingling and has no other injuries. On exam, he is neurovascularly intact. Edema and tenderness are noted slightly anterior and inferior to the lateral malleolus. There is no point tenderness to the distal posterior malleoli bilaterally.

Should you get an X-ray to rule out fracture?

Ottawa Ankle Rule

Pain in the malleolar zone and any one of the following:

  • Bone tenderness along the distal 6 cm of the posterior edge or tip of the tibia (medial malleolus), OR
  • Bone tenderness along the distal 6 cm of the posterior edge or tip of the fibula (lateral malleolus), OR
  • An inability to bear weight both immediately after the trauma and in the ED for four steps.

Ottawa Foot Rule

Pain in the midfoot zone and any one of the following:

  • Bone tenderness at the base of the fifth metatarsal, OR
  • Bone tenderness at the navicular bone, OR
  • An inability to bear weight both immediately after the trauma and in the ED for four steps.

Case Discussion

In the above case, using either CDR, an X-ray is unnecessary.

Cite this article as: iEM Education Project Team, "A 28-year-old man presents to the ED with left ankle pain," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, June 10, 2019, https://iem-student.org/2019/06/10/a-28-year-old-man-presents-to-the-ed-with-left-ankle-pain/, date accessed: December 4, 2021