Risk Factors in Pediatric Blunt Cervical Vascular Injury and Significance of Seatbelt Sign

Irma T Ugalde, Mary K Claiborne, Marylou Cardenas-Turanzas, Manish N Shah, James R Langabeer, Rajan Patel
Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 2018, 19 (6): 961-969

Introduction: Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is used to screen patients for cerebrovascular injury after blunt trauma, but risk factors are not clearly defined in children. This modality has inherent radiation exposure. We set out to better delineate the risk factors associated with blunt cervical vascular injury (BCVI) in children with attention to the predictive value of seatbelt sign of the neck.

Methods: We collected demographic, clinical and radiographic data from the electronic medical record and a trauma registry for patients less than age 18 years who underwent CTA of the neck in their evaluation at a Level I trauma center from November 2002 to December 2014 (12 years). The primary outcome was BCVI.

Results: We identified 11,446 pediatric blunt trauma patients of whom 375 (2.7%) underwent CTA imaging. Fifty-three patients (0.4%) were diagnosed with cerebrovascular injuries. The average age of patients was 12.6 years and included 66% males. Nearly half of the population was white (52%). Of those patients who received CTA, 53 (14%) were diagnosed with arterial injury of various grades (I-V). We created models to evaluate factors independently associated with BCVI. The independent predictors associated with BCVI were Injury Severity Score >/= 16 (odds ratio [OR] [2.35]; 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.11-4.99%]), infarct on head imaging (OR [3.85]; 95% CI [1.49-9.93%]), hanging mechanism (OR [8.71]; 95% CI [1.52-49.89%]), cervical spine fracture (OR [3.84]; 95% CI [1.94-7.61%]) and basilar skull fracture (OR [2.21]; 95% CI [1.13-4.36%]). The same independent predictors remained associated with BCVI when excluding hanging mechanism from the multivariate regression analysis. Seatbelt sign of the neck was not associated with BCVI (p=0.68).

Conclusion: We have found independent predictors of BCVI in pediatric patients. These may help in identifying children that may benefit from screening with CTA of the neck.

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