Study objective: To study the epidemiology of pediatric hand injuries.
Design: Retrospective chart review.
Setting: Emergency department of a children's hospital.
Participants: All patients with a final diagnosis of hand injury from July through December 1989.
Results: Four hundred sixty-four patients (287 boys and 177 girls; median age, 10 years) with a total of 477 hand injuries were enrolled in the study. The most common types of injuries were lacerations (38.1%), soft tissue injuries (28.7%), and fractures (19.3%) and sprains (8%); most (60.8%) were sustained at home. Children with lacerations and burns were significantly younger than those with other types of hand injuries (P < .0001). Children with fractures, sprains, and sports injuries were significantly older than those with other types of hand injuries (P < .001). The fifth finger was the most commonly fractured digit (37%), and the fifth metacarpal was the most commonly fractured bone (P < .01). Boys were more likely than girls to sustain sports-related injuries (P < .05) and hand injuries resulting from first fights (P < .01). More hand injuries were associated with football than with any other organized sport (P < .01). All but 16 children (3.4%) were managed as outpatients.
Conclusion: Hand trauma accounts for a significant number of pediatric ED visits. Physicians caring for children in the ED setting must be prepared to manage a wide spectrum of pediatric hand injuries.