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May 1992

Lacerations Involving GlassThe Role of Routine Roentgenograms

Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(5):600-602. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160170080020

• Objective.  —To determine, when evaluating a laceration caused by glass, whether seeing that the bottom of the wound is free of glass eliminates the possibility that glass is present in the wound.

Research Design.  —Prospective patient series.

Setting.  —Two pediatric emergency departments.

Participants.  —226 children with lacerations due to glass occurring in a period of 21 months.

Selection Procedures.  —Consecutive sample.

Interventions.  —Before obtaining a roentgenogram, the triage nurse or the managing physician visually inspected each wound and recorded whether the bottom of the wound was seen, if glass was seen in the wound, and the length and depth of the wound. Further treatment of the wound was at the discretion of the managing physician.

Measurements/Main Results.  —Glass was seen in the wounds of 10 children on initial inspection. Of the remaining 216 injuries, glass was contained in 12 (21.4%) of the 56 lacerations when the bottom of the wound was not visualized, and in 11(6.9%) of the 160 lacerations when the bottom of the wound was visualized. There was a significant association between the depth of the wound and an inability to see the bottom of the wound, and deeper wounds were significantly more likely to contain glass. All but one of the lacerations containing glass had a depth of at least 0.5 cm.

Conclusions.  —In the population studied, seeing that the bottom of the laceration was free of glass reduced, but did not eliminate, the possibility that glass was present in the wound. In addition, superficial lacerations (<0.5 cm) rarely contained undetected glass fragments. We recommend that further investigation concerning the mechanism of injury, the depth of the wound, and the type of glass involved is needed before physicians abandon routine roentgenography for lacerations due to glass.(AJDC. 1992;146:600-602)