Pulmonary embolism: which pediatric trauma patients are at risk?

Anne K Truitt, Donald L Sorrells, Eric Halvorson, Jayne Starring, Arlet G Kurkchubasche, Thomas F Tracy, Francois I Luks
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2005, 40 (1): 124-7

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (DVT/PE) are rare in pediatric trauma patients, and guidelines for prophylaxis are scarce. The authors sought to identify subgroups of patients who may be at higher risk of developing DVT/PE.

METHODS: Case-control study of pediatric trauma patients with DVT/PE. Odds ratios (ORs) and confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for known risk factors of PE using matched trauma controls (chi2 analysis).

RESULTS: A total of 3637 pediatric trauma patients was admitted over the last 7 years. Three patients developed DVT/PE (overall incidence, 0.08%). There were 2 girls and 1 boy, aged 15, 15, and 9 years, respectively. All 3 had an Injury Severity Score (ISS) > or =25 and an initial Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) < or =8. None of the known and potential risk factors significantly increased the OR for developing DVT/PE: age 9 years or older (OR, 3.6; CI, 0.4-26), presence of head injury (OR, 2.9; CI, 0.3-22), female sex (OR, 1.2; CI, 0.15-9.1), GCS < or =8 (OR, 9.2; CI, 0.9-230), except ISS > or =25 (OR, 82; CI, 7.6-2058). The OR for a combination of age and GCS was 106, and the OR for the 3 risk factors (age, ISS, GCS) common to all 3 patients was 114 (CI, 10-5000; P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: The overall incidence of DVT/PE in pediatric trauma patients is <0.1% and routine prophylaxis is not recommended. Children aged 9 years or older with an initial GCS < or =8 and patients with an estimated ISS > or =25 may constitute a high-risk group in which prophylaxis could be considered.

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