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The evaluation of a new digital semi-automated system for the radiological assessment of distal radial fractures

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Objective. To compare intra- and inter-observer variation for measurements of wrist deformity using a manual method of measurement and a semi-automated digital system developed in our department.

Design. Four observers measured radial angle, radial shift, radial length, palmar tilt, and dorsal shift on ten wrist-fracture films using a standardised protocol. Each observer made measurements directly from the radiograph on three occasions, and on a further three occasions digitised images were viewed and measurements made with semi-automated on-screen measurement tools.

Results. Manual measurements took 12 min per case compared with 3 min for the digital system. The digital system resulted in improved intra-observer variation for all measurements and an improvement in inter-observer variation for all measurements except posterior tilt.

Conclusion. The new system allows greater precision in assessing fracture reduction and follow-up. Its principal application is in studies that utilise the wrist as a model for fracture healing.

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Grainger, A., Duryea, J., Elliott, J. et al. The evaluation of a new digital semi-automated system for the radiological assessment of distal radial fractures. Skeletal Radiol 31, 457–463 (2002).

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