Yield of skeletal survey by age in children referred to abuse specialists

Daniel M. Lindberg, Rachel P. Berger, Maegan S. Reynolds, Riham M. Alwan, Nancy S. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objective To determine rates of skeletal survey completion and injury identification as a function of age among children who underwent subspecialty evaluation for concerns of physical abuse. Study design This was a retrospective secondary analysis of an observational study of 2609 children <60 months of age who underwent evaluation for possible physical abuse. We measured rates of skeletal survey completion and fracture identification for children separated by age into 6-month cohorts. Results Among 2609 subjects, 2036 (78%) had skeletal survey and 458 (18%) had at least one new fracture identified. For all age groups up to 36 months, skeletal survey was obtained in >50% of subjects, but rates decreased to less than 35% for subjects >36 months. New fracture identification rates for skeletal survey were similar between children 24-36 months of age (10.3%, 95% CI 7.2-14.2) and children 12-24 months of age (12.0%, 95% CI 9.2-15.3) Conclusions Skeletal surveys identify new fractures in an important fraction of children referred for subspecialty consultation with concerns of physical abuse. These data support guidelines that consider skeletal survey mandatory for all such children <24 months of age and support a low threshold to obtain skeletal survey in children as old as 36 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1268-1273.e1
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration/Maternal and Child Health Bureau , Emergency Medical Services for Children Program ( H34MC19346-01-02 ). D.L. and N.H. have provided paid expert testimony for prosecution and defense in cases of alleged child physical abuse. The other authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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