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A preliminary study of the use of ultrasound in defining nasal fractures: Criteria for a confident diagnosis

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October 24, 2013
by Farhad Ardeshirpour, MD; Keith M. Ladner, MD; Carol G. Shores, MD, PhD; William W. Shockley, MD


Nasal fractures are usually diagnosed by clinical examination, with or without the support of imaging studies. While plain-film radiography lacks sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing nasal fractures, and computed tomography (CT) is not always practical or cost-effective, ultrasonography (US) may be useful in this regard. The criteria by which adult nasal fractures are reliably identified on US must be clear. We conducted a preliminary prospective, controlled, observational study to define the appearance of nasal fractures on US. We used US to image 12 patients with a clinical or radiologic (CT or x-ray) diagnosis of nasal fracture. All patients presented within 2 weeks of their injury. For comparison purposes, we also obtained US images from 12 control subjects who had no history of nasal trauma or surgery. We found that we could confidently diagnose nasal fractures on lateral-view US on the basis of a disruption of bone continuity and/or displacement of fracture segments. However, our findings were not as consistent with dorsal-view US, and we do not believe it is adequate for diagnosis. We conclude that lateral US can be used to detect nasal fractures in adults, but further studies are needed to assess its sensitivity, specificity, cost-effectiveness, and practicality.

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