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AIMS: Current National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance advises that MRI direct from the emergency department (ED) should be considered for suspected scaphoid fractures. This study reports the current management of suspected scaphoid fractures in the UK and assesses adherence with NICE guidance. METHODS: This national cross-sectional study was carried out at 87 NHS centres in the UK involving 122 EDs and 184 minor injuries units (MIUs). The primary outcome was availability of MRI imaging direct from the ED. We also report the specifics of patient management pathways for suspected scaphoid fractures in EDs, MIUs, and orthopaedic services. Overall, 62 of 87 centres (71%) had a guideline for the management of suspected scaphoid fractures. RESULTS: A total of 11 of 87 centres (13%) had MRI directly available from the ED. Overall, 14 centres (17%) used cross-sectional imaging direct from the ED: MRI in 11 (13%), CT in three (3%), and a mixture of MRI/CT in one (1%). Four centres (6%) used cross-sectional imaging direct from the MIU: MRI in three (4%) and CT in two (2%). Of 87 centres' orthopaedic specialist services, 74 (85%) obtained repeat radiographs, while the most common form of definitive imaging used was MRI in 55 (63%), CT in 16 (19%), mixture of MRI/CT in three (3%), and radiographs in 11 (13%). CONCLUSION: Only a small minority of centres currently offer MRI directly from the ED for patients with a suspected scaphoid fracture. Further research is needed to investigate the facilitators and barriers to the implementation of NICE guidance. Cite this article: Bone Jt Open 2021;2(11):997-1003.

Original publication




Journal article


Bone jt open

Publication Date





997 - 1003


CT scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, NICE, Orthopaedic surgeons, Wrist, clinician, fracture, immobilization, pathway, radiographs, randomized controlled trial, scaphoid, scaphoid fractures, suspected, trauma, wrist injury