Epidemiology of scaphoid fractures and non-unions: A systematic review

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Background The scaphoid is the most commonly fractured carpal bone in adults as well as in children. Previous studies have reported a wide range of fracture incidences. Scaphoid fractures and non-unions in children have been sparsely investigated. Aim To perform a systematic review of the current literature on epidemiology of scaphoid fractures and non-unions in adults and children. Methods An electronic literature search was conducted investigating all studies in the literature published between January 1989 and June 23 2020. The systematic review following the PRISMA guidelines and searching in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science and Cochrane library databases was done in June 2020. Results 42 studies met our inclusion criteria, 6 studies were prospective, 32 were retrospective and 4 were register studies. The majority of studies relied on conventional radiographs for diagnosis. Scaphoid fractures in adults are predominately found in males with a peak incidence in the age group from 20 to 29 years. Incidence rates in males are reported from 107 to 151/100 000. Females have an earlier peak, in the age group 10 to 19 years, with an incidence from 14 to 46/100 000. Most fractures occur in the middle third of the scaphoid representing 60 69 % of cases. Scaphoid fractures in children are predominately found in boys age 12 and above, while it seldomly occur for children younger than 9 years. In adults the risk for developing a scaphoid non-union is between 2 % and 5 %, the majority affecting males and predominately located at the middle third of the scaphoid. Non-unions among children are rare and mainly due to missed or delayed diagnosis of a fracture in the middle third of the scaphoid. Conclusion This review revealed a substantial heterogeneity among studies concerning study population, diagnosis criterial and outcome measures. Currently, evidence on epidemiology for scaphoid fractures and non-unions are low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-381
Number of pages8
JournalHandchirurgie, Mikrochirurgie, Plastische Chirurgie
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Surgery

Free keywords

  • epidemiology
  • incidence
  • Scaphoid fracture
  • scaphoid non-union


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