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Splints as Good as Plaster Casts for Minor Fractures
Date:4/16/2008

But one expert says there's a hitch: Kids can take them off

WEDNESDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- A review of past research shows cheaper, removable splints are as safe and effective as traditional plaster casts for treating minor wrist fractures in children.

But one U.S. orthopedic expert disagrees, saying that kids may be tempted to take off the split at inappropriate times and cause further damage to themselves.

"Yes, you can treat a child's buckle fracture with a splint, but I don't," Dr. Leon Benson, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), said in a prepared statement. "In my experience, a child under 10 is not going to keep a splint on, and who is going to take responsibility for that fact -- the doctor. And, given that fact, what parent wants to sit on pins and needles waiting for it to happen when a safe plaster cast insures it won't?"

Minor wrist, or buckle, fractures are common among children. They often occur when a child falls on an outstretched hand. Traditionally, physicians treat these incomplete bone fractures by covering the wrist to just below the elbow in a plaster cast for a short time, often about three weeks.

Of the 10 reviewed studies that compared plaster casting to removable splints in 827 children with wrist fractures, none reported a bone deformity in any patient. The review, conducted by British researchers, was published in the current issue of The Cochrane Library.

"There are minor, or buckle, fractures of the wrist, particularly in toddlers and preschool infants, which are currently being over-treated with a plaster cast and clinic follow-up," lead investigator Alwyn Abraham, a consultant orthopedic surgeon in pediatrics at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, said in a prepared statement. "Provided these are accurately diagnosed in an emergency department, these minor fractures can be treated with a removable splint. Removal can be d
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