Upper extremity fractures due to intimate partner violence versus accidental causes

Emerg Radiol. 2021 Oct 9;1-9. doi: 10.1007/s10140-021-01972-9. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV)-related upper extremity fractures (UEF) in women presenting to US emergency departments (ED) and compare their anatomic location to those due to accidental falls or strikes.

Methods: An Institutional Review Board exempt, retrospective review of prospectively collected data was performed using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System's All Injury Program data from 2005 through 2015 for all UEF sustained in women 15 to 54 years old. Injuries based on reported IPV versus accidental falls or strikes were analyzed accounting for the weighted, stratified nature of the data.

Results: IPV-related UEF represented 1.7% of all UEF and 27.2% of all IPV fractures. The finger was the most common fracture site in IPV (34.3%) and accidental striking (53.3%) but accounted for only 10% of fall-related UEF. There was a higher proportion of shoulder fractures in IPV (9.2%) compared to accidental falls (7.4%) or strikes (2.9%). The odds of a finger fracture were 4.32 times greater in IPV than falling and of a shoulder fracture were 3.65 greater in IPV than accidental striking (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: While the finger is the most common site for IPV UEF, it is also the most common location for accidental striking. A lower proportion of finger fractures in fall and of shoulder/forearm fractures in accidental striking should prompt the radiologist to discuss the possibility of IPV with the ED physician in any woman presenting with a finger fracture due to fall and a shoulder/forearm fracture with a vague history of accidental striking.

Keywords: Finger fractures; Intimate partner violence; Upper extremity fractures.