Interpreting the wrist radiograph in adult trauma
How to interpret radiographs of the adult wrist—normal anatomy and distal radial fractures
- By: Anne Boulton, Tom Turmezei
It is important for all newly qualified doctors to be confident in interpreting radiographs of the adult wrist, especially in the setting of acute trauma. The wrist is a common site of musculoskeletal injury,1 usually caused by falling on an outstretched hand.2 Every year around 282 000 falls occur in hospitals and mental health units in the United Kingdom,3 meaning many junior doctors will encounter wrist radiographs regardless of their placement specialty. Interpretation of wrist radiographs is also a common request in the emergency department, where diagnostic decisions may need to be made without senior radiological or orthopaedic opinion.
Successful interpretation requires a sound understanding of local anatomy,4 a basic understanding of how and why certain radiographic views are taken, and some knowledge of common local injury patterns. In this series of articles, we provide an overview of common and important injuries in the adult wrist so that correct management can