Pediatric neurosurgical injuries associated with all-terrain vehicle accidents: A 10-year experience at St. Louis Children's Hospital

Department of Neurosurgery, Washington University in St. Louis, San Luis, Missouri, United States
Journal of Neurosurgery (Impact Factor: 3.74). 08/2006; 105(1 Suppl):2-5. DOI: 10.3171/ped.2006.105.1.2
Source: PubMed


All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) have been characterized as inherently unstable and are associated with significant pediatric injuries in the US. The authors performed a study to analyze data obtained in pediatric patients who had sustained neurological injuries in ATV-related accidents, identify potential risk factors, and propose preventive measures. The study is based on a 10-year experience at the St. Louis Children's Hospital.
The authors retrospectively analyzed data obtained in all patients admitted to the St. Louis Children's Hospital between 1993 and 2003, limiting their focus to pediatric cases involving ATV-related accidents. A total of 185 patients were admitted with these criteria. Sixty-two patients (33.5%) suffered neurological injuries; there were 42 male and 20 female patients whose age ranged from 2 to 17 years. The most common injuries included skull fracture (37 cases) and closed head injury (30 cases). There were 39 cases of intracranial hemorrhage and 11 of spinal fracture. A total of 15 types of neurosurgical procedure were performed: six craniotomies for hematoma drainage, five craniotomies for elevation of depressed fractures, two procedures to allow placement of an intracranial pressure monitor, one to allow placement of an external ventricular drain, and one to allow the insertion of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Two patients had sustained spinal cord injury, and three procedures were performed for spinal decompression or stabilization. The duration of hospital stay ranged from 1 to 143 days (mean 6.6 days). Fifty-seven patients (30.8%) were eventually discharged from the hospital, three (1.6%) were transferred to another hospital, two (1.1%) died, and 123 (66.4%) required in-patient rehabilitation.
Children suffered significant injuries due to ATV accidents. In passengers there was a statistically significant increased risk of neurological injury. The relative risk of neurological injury in patients not wearing helmets was higher than that in those who wore helmets, but the difference did not reach statistical significance. Further efforts must be made to improve the proper operation and safety of ATVs, both through the education of parents and children and through the creation of legislation requiring stricter laws concerning ATV use.

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