Does bruising help determine which fractures are caused by abuse?

Valvano, T. J.; Binns, H. J.; Flaherty, E. G.; Leonhardt, D. E.

Child Maltreat. 2008 Nov 13; 14(4):376-81


To determine whether the presence or absence of bruising can be used to differentiate between abusive and nonabusive fractures, a retrospective study was conducted of patients with acute fractures referred to a child abuse team. A bruise and fracture were considered associated if both occurred on the same body site. Chart summaries, excluding information on bruising, were reviewed by 2 abuse experts to assign cause of injury. Of the 150 participants, fractures of 93 (62%) were categorized as abusive and 57 (38%) as nonabusive. Bruising associated with a fracture was found for 26% of abused and 25% of nonabused children. Most children (61%) had no bruises anywhere on the body, and this did not differ significantly by cause of injury. The sensitivity of a bruise associated with a fracture to predict abuse was only 26%. The presence or absence of bruising was not useful to differentiate between abusive and nonabusive fractures.

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