Blunt abdominal trauma in children

Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Current opinion in pediatrics (Impact Factor: 2.53). 03/2012; 24(3):314-8. DOI: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e328352de97
Source: PubMed


This review will examine the current evidence regarding pediatric blunt abdominal trauma and the physical exam findings, laboratory values, and radiographic imaging associated with the diagnosis of intra-abdominal injuries (IAI), as well as review the current literature on pediatric hollow viscus injuries and emergency department disposition after diagnosis.
The importance of the seat belt sign on physical examination and screening laboratory data remains controversial, although screening hepatic enzymes are recommended in the evaluation of nonaccidental trauma to identify occult abdominal organ injuries. Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) has modest sensitivity for hemoperitoneum and IAI in the pediatric trauma patient. Patients with concern for undiagnosed IAI, including bowel injury, may be considered for hospital admission and serial abdominal exams without an increased risk of complications, if an exploratory laparotomy is not performed emergently.
Although the FAST exam is not recommended as the sole screening tool to rule out IAI in hemodynamically stable trauma patients, it may be used in conjunction with the physical exam and laboratory findings to identify children at risk for IAI. Children with a normal physical exam and normal abdominal CT may not require routine hospitalization after blunt abdominal trauma.

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    • ". The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma recognizes the FAST exam as an adjunct to the evaluation of the pediatric patient, but despite its increased popularity, the use of FAST in children is not ubiquitously employed at all pediatric trauma centers nor is its role in the evaluation of an injured child clearly understood [14]. Despite the common use of FAST at adult and pediatric trauma centers it is not clear that rigorous standards exist for either verification of skills or maintenance of proficiency. "
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    ABSTRACT: With increasing concerns about radiation exposure, we questioned whether a structured program of FAST might decrease CT use. All pediatric trauma surgeons in our level 1 pediatric trauma center underwent formal FAST training. Children with potential abdominal trauma and no prior imaging were prospectively evaluated from 10/2/09 to 7/31/11. After physical exam and FAST, the surgeon declared whether the CT could be eliminated. Of 536 children who arrived without imaging, 183 had potential abdominal trauma. FAST was performed in 128 cases and recorded completely in 88. In 48% (42/88) the surgeon would have elected to cancel the CT based on the FAST and physical exam. One of the 42 cases had a positive FAST and required emergent laparotomy; the others were negative. The sensitivity of FAST for injuries requiring operation or blood transfusion was 87.5%. The sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV in detecting pathologic free fluid were 50%, 85%, 53.8%, and 87.9%. True positive FAST exams are uncommon and would rarely direct management. While the negative FAST would have potentially reduced CT use due to practitioner reassurance, this reassurance may be unwarranted given the test's sensitivity.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Journal of Pediatric Surgery
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    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · The S.A. journal of continuing medical education = Die S.A. tydskrif van voortgesette geneeskundige onderrig
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Routine testing of hepatic transaminases, amylase, and lipase has been recommended for all children evaluated for physical abuse, but rates of screening are widely variable, even among abuse specialists, and data for amylase and lipase testing are lacking. A previous study of screening in centers that endorsed routine transaminase screening suggested that using a transaminase threshold of 80 IU/L could improve injury detection. Our objectives were to prospectively validate the test characteristics of the 80-IU/L threshold and to determine the utility of amylase and lipase to detect occult abdominal injury. Methods: This was a retrospective secondary analysis of the Examining Siblings To Recognize Abuse research network, a multicenter study in children younger than 10 years old who underwent subspecialty evaluation for physical abuse. We determined rates of identified abdominal injuries and results of transaminase, amylase, and lipase testing. Screening studies were compared by using basic test characteristics (sensitivity, specificity) and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve. Results: Abdominal injuries were identified in 82 of 2890 subjects (2.8%; 95% confidence interval: 2.3%-3.5%). Hepatic transaminases were obtained in 1538 (53%) subjects. Hepatic transaminases had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.87. A threshold of 80 IU/L yielded sensitivity of 83.8% and specificity of 83.1%. The areas under the curve for amylase and lipase were 0.67 and 0.72, respectively. Conclusions: Children evaluated for physical abuse with transaminase levels >80 IU/L should undergo definitive testing for abdominal injury.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2013 · PEDIATRICS
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