Research Article| Volume 60, ISSUE 4, P368-371, April 2007

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Nomenclature for fingers and phalanges: to name or to number?



      Two systems exist for describing fingers and phalanges: Naming and Numbering. This can cause confusion for clinicians. We compared the two systems to see if one was better understood.


      Thirty-eight clinicians were asked a questionnaire to identify 11 terms on hand outline drawings.


      Naming was better understood than Numbering both overall (McNemar's test, p=0.000026) and with just abbreviations (p=0.0017) or full terms (p=0.000074). Radial/ulnar was superior to medial/lateral for laterality (p=0.046). Within the Naming system, the full terms were less ambiguous than abbreviations (p=0.000012).
      Our study suggests that Naming is better understood than Numbering and that full terms are preferable to abbreviations. To describe laterality, radial and ulnar are less ambiguous that medial and lateral.


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