Children's Hospital Colorado

Scaphoid Fracture in Children

What is a scaphoid fracture?

The scaphoid is one of the eight carpal (wrist) bones. A scaphoid fracture is a break in the scaphoid bone. The scaphoid bone is between the thumb and the bones of the arm. This bone has an unusual flow of blood which can make healing of this bone difficult.

A graphic illustration of three types of scaphoid fractures: distal, waist and proximal.

The following are signs of a scaphoid fracture:

  • Pain on the thumb side of the wrist
  • Swelling and bruising at the base of the thumb
  • Difficulty gripping objects or moving the wrist

How is a scaphoid fracture diagnosed?

A scaphoid fracture is usually diagnosed with an X-ray of the wrist. Most often, the doctor will order navicular (scaphoid) views of the wrist of they are thinking there might be a scaphoid fracture. Sometimes a scaphoid fracture will not show up on X-ray for a few weeks. The doctor may order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan to look closer at the bone.

What is the treatment for a scaphoid fracture?

The best way to treat a fractured (broken) bone is to stabilize (keep it in place) the bone while it heals. This is usually done with a cast. When casting a scaphoid fracture, it is necessary to wear a cast anywhere from six weeks to several months. The doctor will take X-rays during this time to see how the bone is healing.

If the break is serious or the bone is not healing as it should, surgery may be needed to repair the fracture.

If surgery is necessary to repair a scaphoid fracture:

  • If surgery is needed it will be done in the operating room under general anesthesia (the child is put to sleep).
  • Small cuts are made to get to the bone.
  • The scaphoid bone is put in the correct position, and a screw is used to hold the bone in position.
A graphic illustration of how we treat scaphoid fracture at Children's Hospital Colorado.

After the surgery:

  • The hand will be bandaged, and sometimes there will be a splint over the bandage.
  • The child is usually able to go home the same day.
  • Pins or wires are taken out once the surgeon feels the finger is healed.

Hand therapy:

Once the bandages are taken off, your surgeon might suggest working with a hand therapist.

Why choose Children's Hospital Colorado for your child's scaphoid fracture?

Our Hand and Upper Extremity Program at Children's Colorado provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the care of your child. This means you have access to leading specialists from multiple departments who work together to treat your child.