Injuries Associated with Pediatric Liver Trauma

Deluca, John A.; Maxwell, Damian R.; Flaherty, Sarah K.; Prigozen, Jason M.; Scragg, Mary E.; Stone, Patrick A.
January 2007
American Surgeon;Jan2007, Vol. 73 Issue 1, p37
Academic Journal
Injury remains the leading cause of childhood mortality for children younger than 14 years of age, with the liver being particularly susceptible to blunt trauma in children. This study reviews the authors' institutions' experience with pediatric liver injuries in an attempt to establish current patterns of injury, management and outcomes. A single-center, retrospective review was conducted of 105 consecutive pediatric patients who presented with a traumatic liver injury from January 1996 through February 2004. Average patient age was 13.1 ± 4.9 years and 58 per cent were male. Perihospital mortality was 8.6 per cent, with 67 per cent of mortality being attributed to head injury. The majority of patients were managed nonoperatively (81%l. Liver injury was most often grade II (35%) by CT scan. Liver injury grade did not affect survival, but did affect injury management, with grade I and grade IV liver injuries more likely to be managed surgically (P < 0.001). Grade I liver injuries were associated with concomitant spleen injuries, whereas grade IV injuries were associated with pancreatic injuries. Surgical management was associated with a higher injury severity score (P = 0.005), higher mortality (P = 0.01), and with other associated injuries as well. Children experiencing blunt abdominal trauma are at risk of significant morbidity and mortality; however, these risks stem more likely from associated injuries than injury to the liver proper. Clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for potentially catastrophic associated injuries to the pancreas with high-grade liver injury.


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