Hematoma Block Versus Sedation for the Reduction of Distal Radius Fractures in Children

David M. Bear, MD


Nicole A. Friel, MD


Charles L. Lupo, MD


Raymond Pitetti, MD


W. Timothy Ward, MD
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA
Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA


To determine which mode of anesthesia, hematoma block (HB) or procedural sedation (PS), was preferable for distal radius fracture (DRF) reduction in children.


Fifty-two children (mean age, 12 y; range, 5–16 y) presenting with DRFs requiring reduction were prospectively enrolled and offered either PS or HB for anesthesia. Following reduction, families completed a satisfaction survey regarding mode of anesthesia and overall care (rated 0–10, with 10 being the best score) and an assessment of discomfort (rated 0–10, with 0 being no pain). Length of stay in the emergency department (ED) and complications related to procedure and method of anesthesia were recorded. Radiographic alignment was evaluated before and after reduction.


Twenty-six patients underwent reduction with either PS or HB. Midazolam was used in addition to HB in 8 patients. One patient was converted from HB to PS due to inadequate block. There was no significant difference in prereduction and postreduction angulation between the groups, and reductions maintained satisfactory alignment. Overall satisfaction and satisfaction with anesthesia were excellent for both groups, with respective means of 9.5 and 9.5 for PS and 9.3 and 9.6 for HB. Patient discomfort was minimal in both groups, with a mean of 1.6 for PS and 2.2 for HB. Length of stay was significantly shorter for HB patients, with patients spending a mean of 2.2 hours less in the ED. Three patients required further intervention following initial reduction. One patient in each group required revision reduction, and 1 PS patient underwent closed reduction and pinning.


Use of HB for the reduction of pediatric DRFs provided radiographic alignment, patient satisfaction, and pain control comparable with that of PS, while significantly decreasing ED time and resources.

Type of study/level of evidence

Therapeutic II.


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Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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