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Papers of the Week

2020 Feb 12

Mil Med



Ultrasonography for Dorsal-Sided Wrist Pain in a Combat Environment: Technique, Pearls, and a Case Report of Dynamic Evaluation of the Scapholunate Ligament.


Ultrasonography is a commonly utilized tool in orthopedic surgery for the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including pathology about the wrist. Its value should not be underestimated when other diagnostic resources are unavailable – such as in a combat setting where ultrasounds, but not X-ray, are a standard equipment item. An active duty soldier presented to an orthopedic provider in an austere environment with chronic dorsal wrist pain due to a previous fall. Physical examination and dynamic ultrasound examination allowed the deployed provider to diagnose a scapholunate ligament injury. The patient was appropriately evacuated to a higher level of care without the need for X-ray or other advanced imaging modalities. Making this readily available resource a standard tool for providers deployed to a forward location could be beneficial for efficient and appropriate patient evacuation for musculoskeletal injuries. It can also rule out injuries that would otherwise have required unnecessary soldier movement through hostile territory for diagnostic tests such as X-rays. In addition, a simple technique and pearls for ultrasonography of the wrist are provided.