JOURNAL ARTICLE

Epidemiology of brachial plexus injury in the pediatric multitrauma population in the United States

Michael J Dorsi, Wesley Hsu, Allan J Belzberg
Journal of Neurosurgery. Pediatrics 2010, 5 (6): 573-7
20515329

OBJECT: The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of brachial plexus injury (BPI) in pediatric multitrauma patients.

METHODS: The National Pediatric Trauma Registry was queried using the ICD-9 code 953.4, injury to brachial plexus, to identify cases of BPI. The patient demographics, mechanism of trauma, and associated ICD-9 diagnoses were analyzed.

RESULTS: Brachial plexus injuries were identified in 113 (0.1%) of the 103,434 injured children entered in the registry between April 1, 1985, and March 31, 2002. Sixty-nine patients (61%) were male. Injuries were most often caused by motor vehicle accidents involving passengers (36 cases [32%]) or pedestrians (19 cases [17%]). Head injuries were diagnosed in 47% of children and included concussion in 27%, intracranial bleeds in 21%, and skull fractures in 14%. Upper-extremity vascular injury occurred in 16%. The most common musculoskeletal injuries were fractures of the humerus (16%), ribs (16%), clavicle (13%), and scapula (11%). Spinal fractures occurred in 12% of patients, and spinal cord injury occurred in 4%. The Injury Severity Score ranged from 1 to 75, with a mean score of 10, and 6 patients (5%) died as a result of injuries sustained during a traumatic event.

CONCLUSIONS: Brachial plexus injuries occur in 0.1% of pediatric multitrauma patients. Motor vehicle accidents and pedestrians struck by a motor vehicle are the most common reasons for BPIs in this population. Common associated injuries include head injuries, upper-extremity vascular injuries, and fractures of the spine, humerus, ribs, scapula, and clavicle.

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