Use of Digital Tomosynthesis in Assessing Accurate Medial Epicondyle Fracture Displacement as Compared with Conventional Radiography and Computed Tomography

Kristin S. Livingston, Emily A. Edwards, Michael Griffin, John D. MacKenzie, Matthew A. Zapala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Medial epicondyle fracture displacement is notoriously difficult to determine on conventional radiography, and follow-up computed tomography (CT) is often obtained to measure precise displacement. Another option for fracture characterization is digital tomosynthesis (DT), a technology providing high in-plane resolution of bony anatomy by acquiring multiple low-dose images in a linear arc. Advantages of DT include lower radiation exposure and lower cost than CT, rapid image acquisition, and a similar patient experience to conventional radiography. The digital application of tomosynthesis is relatively new and is integrated as an add-on feature with modern radiography equipment. This study compares DT, CT and conventional radiography for measurement accuracy in medial epicondyle fractures with the goal of determining relative accuracy in measuring medial epicondyle fracture displacement. Methods: Medial epicondyle fractures were created in 5 cadaveric elbow specimens. Each specimen was imaged with conventional radiography, DT, and CT. True displacement measured by digital calipers was compared with "measured" displacement for each image acquisition. CT images included axial, sagittal, and coronal reformats. DT images of the elbow included anteroposterior (AP) longitudinal and transverse, lateral longitudinal and transverse, and axial longitudinal and transverse. Conventional radiographs included AP, lateral, and axial distal humerus images. Four physicians reviewed all images 3 months later. Each reviewer independently measured maximum apparent fracture displacement to the nearest 0.1 mm. Measurement accuracy was calculated as percent difference [(measured displacement-Actual displacement)/actual displacement] for each acquisition. Mean, median, and SD for measurement accuracy were calculated. Two-Tailed paired t tests were performed on each acquisition to compare the measurement accuracy. Results: Compared with conventional radiographs, accuracy of DT was superior in AP longitudinal (P=0.03), AP transverse (P=0.01), axial longitudinal (P=0.0001), and axial transverse projections (P=0.001). Accuracy of CT was superior to conventional radiography in the AP projection (P=0.03), but was equivalent in the axial projection (P=0.9). Accuracy of CT was similar to DT in AP longitudinal (P=0.6), AP transverse (P=0.5), and axial longitudinal projections (P=0.07). Accuracy of DT in the axial transverse projection was superior to CT (P=0.03). Conclusion: DT is more accurate than conventional radiography (both AP and axial views) and as accurate as CT in assessing millimeters of displacement of medial epicondyle fracture fragments. Level of Evidence: Level IV-diagnostic study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • cadaver
  • computed tomography
  • digital tomography
  • digital tomosynthesis
  • displacement
  • medial epicondyle fracture
  • pediatric fracture
  • radiograph

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of Digital Tomosynthesis in Assessing Accurate Medial Epicondyle Fracture Displacement as Compared with Conventional Radiography and Computed Tomography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this