Traumatic aortic injuries in the pediatric population

Scott A Anderson, Mathew Day, Mike K Chen, Thomas Huber, Lawrence L Lottenberg, David W Kays, Elizabeth A Beierle
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2008, 43 (6): 1077-81

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Blunt trauma is the leading cause of pediatric injury, but pediatric aortic injuries are rare. We undertook this study to investigate the demographics, treatment, and outcomes of children with blunt aortic injuries and report our experience over a 10-year period.

METHODS: After Institutional Review Board approval, a 10-year retrospective review of all pediatric patients admitted with blunt aortic injury was performed. Patient demographics, injury details and severity score (Injury Severity Score), treatment, and outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS: There were 11 children, with ages ranging from 7 to 19 years. The most common mechanism of injury was motor vehicle crashes (8). Initial computed tomography demonstrated all 11 injuries: 7 thoracic aortic (TA) and 4 abdominal aortic (AA) injuries. Associated injuries were common. The TA injuries included 4 transections, 2 intimal flaps, and 1 pseudoaneurysm. Three of these were managed nonoperatively. The AA injuries included 3 intimal flaps and 1 dissection. Three of these were also managed nonoperatively. There were no complications in the 4 children with AA or in the 3 children with TA managed nonoperatively. Complications in the 4 children undergoing operative repair of the TA included paraplegia, renal failure, recurrent laryngeal nerve injury, and pulmonary embolus. The mean hospital stay was 8 days. All children survived, with all but one discharged directly to home.

CONCLUSIONS: Blunt aortic injury in children is uncommon and is primarily associated with motor vehicle crashes. Injuries to the abdominal aorta were seen with restrained children vs those to the thoracic aorta that were seen in children who were unrestrained.


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