Shoulder series (pediatric)

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 23 Mar 2023

The shoulder series for pediatrics is a two-view series containing anteroposterior and lateral radiographs. Depending on the patient's level of distress and the severity of the injury, adapting the radiographic technique to suit a child sitting in bed or lying supine may be necessary. 

  • trauma with a suspected fracture

  • suspected dislocation

The patient should remove any clothing or jewelry over the affected shoulder.

The use of gonadal and fetal shielding has been deemed as non-beneficial to patients' health in current evidences 1-3 and may or may not be useful for pediatric extremity imaging. Placing gonadal shielding can increase the examination time and may cause the child more stress.

The major difficulty in pediatric shoulder radiography relates to:

To overcome this, a variety of techniques can be used:

  • distract the patient with toys, games and/or conversation

  • using the swaddling technique; wrap the child in a blanket to promote comfort and perform the images supine

  • setting up the room before moving the patient into the required position can reduce patient distress

Children will find it difficult to keep their arm still; particularly if the limb is injured. One option is to have a carer or radiographer stand on the child's non-affected side, placing one hand on their mid-chest and another holding the proximal forearm.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: AP shoulder of humerus fracture
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  • Case 1: lateral shoulder of humerus fracture
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