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RSNA: Ulnar Fractures May Indicate Intimate Partner Violence

Falls rarely cause ulnar fractures, which may be a sign of intimate partner violence

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MONDAY, Dec. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Up to one-third of women with isolated ulnar fractures may have confirmed or suspected intimate partner violence (IPV), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held virtually from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5.

Bharti Khurana, M.D., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues searched electronic medical records from six hospitals for isolated ulnar fractures in women aged 18 to 50 years from 2005 to 2019. Radiographs were reviewed to determine fracture location, comminution, and displacement, as well as associated injuries.

The researchers identified 62 patients, of whom 11 were confirmed IPV, nine suspected IPV, eight suspected unrelated, and 34 confirmed unrelated. IPV was associated with minimally displaced fractures in a comparative analysis with and without suspected cases (95 versus 43 percent and 91 versus 44 percent, respectively). There were also associations noted for confirmed cases with homelessness (46 versus 0 percent) and number of documented emergency department visits attributable to musculoskeletal injury (average: 4.4 ± 3.7 versus 0.9 ± 0.4). In 40.0 percent of confirmed/suspected IPV patients and in 14.3 percent of patients with fractures confirmed/suspected to be unrelated to IPV, formal documentation of IPV evaluation or screening was completed.

"It's actually rare to break your ulnar in a fall," Khurana said in a statement. "If a radiologist is seeing an ulnar fracture that is nondisplaced, and the woman says she had a fall, it's actually quite concerning for intimate partner violence."

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