Background: Upper extremity fractures (UEFs) associated with road traffic accidents (RTAs) may result in long-term disability. Previous studies have examined UEF profiles with small patient populations. The objective of this study was to examine the injury profiles of UEFs in all mechanisms of injury related to RTAs.
Methods: Data on 71,231 RTA adult patients between 1997 and 2012 whose records were entered in a centralized country trauma database were reviewed. Data on UEFs related to mechanism of injury (car, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian) including associated injuries, multiple UEFs, and frequency of UEF were analyzed.
Results: Of 71,231 adult RTA cases recorded in 1997-2012, 12,754 (17.9%) included UEFs. Motorcycle (27%) and bicycle riders (25%) had the greater risk for UEF (P<.0001). Of 12,754 patients with UEFs, 9701 (76%) had other injuries. Pedestrians (86%) and car occupants (81%) had the greater risk for associated injuries (P<.0001). Most of the injuries were head/face/neck (52%), lower extremities (49%), and chest (46%) injuries (P<.0001). Twenty-two percent of all cases had multiple UEFs. The motorcycle riders (27%) had the greater risk for multiple UEFs (P<.0001). Of 12,754 patients with UEFs we found 16,371 UEFs. Most of the fractures were in the radius (22%), humerus (19%), and clavicle (17%) (P<.0001).
Conclusions: This study contributes the largest database on reported adult UEFs related to all mechanisms of injury in RTAs and finds the comparative epidemiology of associated injuries, multiple UEFs, and frequency of UEFs. It is important that the treating surgeon is aware of the complexity of the UEF patient, the strong possibility for associated injury, the possibility for multiple fractures in the upper limbs, and the most common fractures associated with each mechanism of accident.
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