Choosing Wisely Now Addresses Pediatric Orthopaedics

choosing-wisely_logo_200x133OrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Matthew R. Schmitz, MD, a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Orthopaedics and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) recently issued a list of tests and treatments that physicians and patients should avoid. The list appears on the Choosing Wisely® website, an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation.

The list highlights 5 commonly encountered pediatric orthopaedic scenarios/conditions that often consume excessive time and resources with little or no clinical value in return. The Evidence Based Committee and Advocacy Committee of POSNA developed the peer-reviewed list and vetted it through both the POSNA Board of Directors and the AAP Executive Committee.

Although geared toward family and primary care physicians, the list contains important take-home points for orthopaedic surgeons who might have pediatric patients walk through their doors. The recommendations include the following:

  1. Screening ultrasound for developmental hip dysplasia is not needed if the newborn has no risk factors and has a clinically stable hip exam. The substantial rate of false positives with screening ultrasounds likely causes many children to undergo unnecessary treatment.
  2. Simple in-toeing does not require a radiographic workup or brace or surgical treatment in children younger than 8 years old. Unless there is severe tripping, falling, or marked asymmetry, a watchful waiting approach is best for this condition, which typically resolves with growth.
  3. Custom orthotics or shoe inserts are not needed for children with asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic flat feet. If the flatfoot is minimally symptomatic and flexible (arch reconstitutes when the child stands on his/her toes), it can be managed with observation or over-the-counter orthotics.
  4. Advanced imaging such as MRI or CT should not be ordered for most musculoskeletal conditions in children until all appropriate clinical, laboratory, and plain film examinations have been done. Most pediatric conditions can be accurately diagnosed with a good history, physical exam, plain radiographs, and occasional labs. Use advanced imaging only if a specific question arises from the preceding workup. CT scans expose patients to high levels of radiation and should be used judiciously. If MRI is deemed necessary, it is best to have the consulting orthopaedist order the MRI with specific protocols and sequences.
  5. Buckle fractures do not need follow-up radiographs if pain and tenderness have resolved after immobilization. These common pediatric injuries are inherently stable.

Both POSNA and the AAP should be commended on their evidenced-based and common-sense approach for tackling these common pediatric orthopaedic conditions.

Matthew R. Schmitz, MD is vice chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and chief of Pediatric Orthopaedics and Adolescent Sports Medicine at San Antonio Military Medical Center in Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

2 thoughts on “Choosing Wisely Now Addresses Pediatric Orthopaedics

  1. This list of tests and treatments that primary care physicians and patients should avoid is a great guide for everyone to tackle those common pediatric orthopaedic conditions. Will save the page for future reference. Thanks much for the share!

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