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Rationale and design of the SMaRT trial: A randomised, prospective, parallel, non-blinded, one-centre trial to evaluate the use of magnetic resonance imaging in acute setting in patients presenting with suspected scaphoid fracture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tiago Rua, Sanjay Vijayanathan, David Parkin, Vicky Goh, Paul McCrone, Sam Gidwani

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-129
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Trials
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

King's Authors


Background Wrist injury is a common presentation to the Emergency Department in the United Kingdom. Among these injuries, the scaphoid is the most common fractured carpal bone. However, given the limited ability of conventional radiography to accurately diagnose a suspected scaphoid fracture on presentation, its diagnosis and management remain challenging. Despite the vast clinical evidence supporting the superior accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging, there is little to no evidence around the real-world clinical and economic impact of immediate magnetic resonance imaging in the management of suspected scaphoid fractures. Methods Review of design and implementation challenges associated with the identification and subsequent recruitment of eligible patients, implementation of a novel clinical pathway in an acute setting, rationale behind the primary and secondary outcomes selected and measurement of the primary outcome. Results The Scaphoid Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Trauma trial is a single-site prospective, randomised, non-blinded, parallel design trial that aims to evaluate the use of immediate magnetic resonance imaging in the management of patients presenting to the acute setting with suspected scaphoid fractures. The primary outcome is the total 3-month cost per patient associated with the diagnosis and treatment of suspected scaphoid fractures. It is hypothesised that the immediate use of magnetic resonance imaging, a more accurate but expensive imaging modality, in patients with negative findings in the initial four-view radiography, will reduce the overall National Health Service costs by promoting definitive care and avoiding unnecessary diagnostic and treatment procedures. Other rationale design considerations in the recruitment, randomisation, data acquisition and intervention implementation are also discussed. Several of these challenges derive from real-world operational issues associated with the provision of magnetic resonance imaging in an intrinsically complex acute setting. Staff engagement during the trial's planning phase, combined with an extensive training programme rolled out prior to the trial's launch, were essential to raise staff awareness and engagement. Given the acute nature of the clinical condition, the latter was deemed essential as the eligibility assessment, recruitment, randomisation and treatment allocation processes all need to happen in a very tight time frame. Limitations Findings from the Scaphoid Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Trauma trial might not be generalisable to other National Health Service hospitals, foreign healthcare systems nor patient presentations outside normal magnetic resonance imaging working hours. Conclusion The Scaphoid Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Trauma trial was designed to evaluate the costs, patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes around the management of suspected scaphoid fractures and ultimately provide solid evidence on which to base the United Kingdom and international clinical practice. This article discusses the steps considered in the design of this novel trial, with particular emphasis on the issues and lessons learned during the planning and implementation stages.

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