Risk factors for blunt thoracic aortic injury in children

Seth R Heckman, Stanley Z Trooskin, Randall S Burd
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2005, 40 (1): 98-102

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Because blunt thoracic aortic injury is rare in children, a high index of suspicion is needed to identify this injury. The purpose of this study was to use a large national trauma database to define the risk factors for blunt thoracic aortic injury in children.

METHODS: Using the National Trauma Database, the authors compared patient demographics, mechanism of injury, and associated injuries between children sustaining blunt trauma with and without a thoracic aortic injury. Factors independently associated with this injury were identified using multivariate methods.

RESULTS: Among 26,940 children with a blunt mechanism of injury, 34 (0.1%) children sustained a thoracic aortic injury, 14 (41%) of whom died. Thoracic aortic injuries were independently associated with age, injury sustained as an occupant in a motor vehicle crash, and severe injuries (Abbreviated Injury Scale value of > or =3) involving the head, thorax (other than aorta), abdomen, and lower extremities.

CONCLUSIONS: Older children involved in a motor vehicle crash with severe head, torso, and lower extremity injuries are a group at high risk for injury to the thoracic aorta. These easily identifiable risk factors may facilitate more rapid identification of this rare and potentially fatal injury.

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