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Scaphoid fractures

Kevin deWeber, MD, FAAFP, FACSM
Section Editors
Patrice Eiff, MD
Chad A Asplund, MD, FACSM, MPH
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


Scaphoid fractures are among the most common upper extremity injuries. They frequently occur following a fall onto an outstretched hand. Plain radiographs taken soon after the injury may not reveal a fracture, but the clinician should assume one is present until definitive proof otherwise is obtained.

This topic will review the diagnosis and nonoperative management of scaphoid (navicular) fractures in adults. An overview of carpal fractures and distal radius fractures and discussions of how to evaluate wrist or thumb pain in adults are presented separately. (See "Overview of carpal fractures" and "Evaluation of the adult with acute wrist pain" and "Evaluation of the adult with subacute or chronic wrist pain" and "Evaluation of the patient with thumb pain" and "Distal radius fractures in adults" and "Anatomy and basic biomechanics of the wrist".)


Carpal fractures account for approximately 5 percent of all fractures and 18 percent of hand fractures, and scaphoid fractures are the most common carpal fracture [1-3]. Scaphoid fractures account for 10 percent of all hand fractures and 60 to 70 percent of all carpal fractures [1,4].

A study of scaphoid fractures in the military showed an unadjusted incidence of 1.21/1000 person-years. In addition, males and whites had a higher relative risk, and 20 to 24 year olds had the highest incidence at 1.64/1000 person-years [5]. According to data from the United States National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the estimated incidence in the population at large is 1.47 fractures/100,000 person-years [6].


The anatomy and biomechanics of the wrist are discussed in detail separately; anatomy of particular relevance to scaphoid injury is reviewed here. (See "Anatomy and basic biomechanics of the wrist".)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 06, 2016.
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