, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 18-22
Date: 14 Dec 2011

The epidemiology of upper extremity injuries presenting to the emergency department in the United States

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The epidemiology of upper extremity injuries presenting to emergency departments in the USA is not well studied. The purpose of this investigation was to estimate the incidence rates of upper extremity injuries presenting to emergency departments.


The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS)—a database of emergency department visits based on a sample of hospitals selected and weighted to represent the entire US population in order to allow estimates of overall incidence—was queried for all upper extremity injuries presenting to US emergency departments in 2009. Injury types were analyzed for each region of the upper extremity, and incidence rates were calculated based on population estimates from the US Census.


A query of the NEISS resulted in 92,601 records of upper extremity injury treated at an emergency department in the USA in 2009, which translates to an estimated total of 3,468,996 such injuries that year. This corresponds to an incidence of 1,130 upper extremity injuries per 100,000 persons per year. The most common region injured was the finger (38.4%). The most common upper extremity injury was a fracture (29.2%). Specific injuries with high incidence rates (all per 100,000 per year) included finger lacerations (221), wrist fractures (72), finger fractures (68), and lower arm fractures (64). Home is the most common setting for an upper extremity injury.


The NEISS provides estimates of the incidences of upper extremity injuries that may be useful for public health initiatives.