Combining the clinical signs improves diagnosis of scaphoid fractures. A prospective study with follow-up

J Hand Surg Br. 1998 Jun;23(3):324-7. doi: 10.1016/s0266-7681(98)80050-8.


This is a prospective study evaluating the efficacy of four clinical signs believed to be useful in the diagnosis of scaphoid fracture. Two hundred and fifteen consecutive patients with suspected scaphoid fracture were examined on two separate occasions to evaluate tenderness in the anatomical snuff box (ASB), tenderness over the scaphoid tubercle (ST), pain on longitudinal compression of the thumb (LC) and the range of thumb movement (TM). At the initial examination ASB, ST and LC were all 100% sensitive for detecting scaphoid fracture with specificities of 9%, 30% and 48% respectively. These clinical signs used in combination, within the first 24 hours following injury, produced 100% sensitivity and an improvement in the specificity to 74%. TM had 69% sensitivity and 66% specificity. Our results suggest that these clinical signs are inadequate indicators of scaphoid fracture when used alone and should be combined to achieve a more accurate clinical diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carpal Bones / injuries*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity