Medical images can help identify cases of intimate partner violence or sexual assault, according to a study presented at the annual RSNA meeting. Reviewing electronic medical records of patients referred to domestic abuse and sexual assault programs from January to October 2016 found common patterns of injury. These included soft tissue injuries, facial and extremity fractures. The latter often involved the distal upper extremities, suggesting injuries suffered when trying to defend oneself. But there were also old fractures or fracture-related deformities.
The study’s principal investigator, Bharti Khurana, M.D., is emergency radiology fellowship program director at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She was intrigued by a young woman who arrived in the ER with an acute nasal bone fracture superimposed on an old, healed break. Examining the patient’s medical image records, Dr. Khurana identified a recent wrist fracture. This pattern made her suspect intimate partner violence.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in four US women is a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner sometime during her life.