While X-ray examinations are a helpful way to uncover ankle injuries, its indiscriminate use might be exposing lakhs of patients to unnecessary radiation. For 85% of patients who don’t have fractures and therefore, don’t require extensive orthopedic interventions, Dr. Vijay D Shetty, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital has developed the ‘Shetty Test’. It’s a clinical alternative to test their injury, which could save them from extra cost and potentially hazardous bouts of radiation.
First detailed in a 2013 medical paper (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23412201/), the procedure is used to rule out ankle fractures, which renders the need for radiological investigation unnecessary. Considering that nearly 55 per 10,000 people suffer ankle injuries globally, it means there could be nearly 50 lakh people in India every year, who will be able to avoid needless X-ray examinations, thanks to this new procedure. At Rs. 300 – Rs. 500 for each test, it will also translate into huge cost savings for patients as well.
The true value of this novel procedure is in its simplicity, which makes it easily replicable and dependable, even when performed by a junior doctor. The procedure has been validated twice, once in Spain in 2018, when a team of doctors collated their observations of using the Shetty Test on 100 patients (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29572077/). The test was validated again in 2021, this time in Australia (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32462734/). The authors of the Australian report concluded that the procedure was a must in emergency departments around the world. In economic terms, widespread implementation of the Shetty Test could save almost Rs.1000 crores in India every year.
Even beyond trauma centres and emergency rooms, Dr. Shetty believes non-practitioners can perform ‘The Shetty Test’ as well, which could make it a helpful first aid skill to have. Even junior doctors can perform this test, which should also help smooth out clinical workflows in hospitals.