Identification of intra-abdominal injuries in children hospitalized following blunt torso trauma

James F Holmes Jr, Peter E. Sokolove, Catherine Land, Nathan Kuppermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the utility of the ED physical examination and laboratory analysis in screening hospitalized pediatric blunt trauma patients for intra-abdominal injuries (IAIs). Methods: The authors reviewed the records of all patients aged <15 years who sustained blunt traumatic injury and were admitted to a Level 1 trauma center over a four-year period. Patients were considered high-risk for IAI if they had any of the following at ED presentation: decreased level of consciousness (GCS < 15), abdominal pain, tenderness on abdominal examination, or gross hematuria. Patients without any of these findings were considered moderate risk for IAI. The authors compared moderate-risk patients with and without IAIs with regard to physical examination and laboratory findings obtained in the ED. Results: Of 1,040 children with blunt trauma, 559 (54%) were high-risk and 481 (46%) were moderate-risk for IAI. 126 (23%) of the high-risk and 22 (4.6%) of the moderate-risk patients had IAIs. Among moderate-risk patients with and without IAIs, those with IAIs were more likely to have abdominal abrasions (5/22 vs 34/459, p = 0.008), an abnormal chest examination (11/22 vs 86/457, p = 0.01), higher mean serum concentrations of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (604 U/L vs 77 U/L, p < 0.001) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (276 U/L vs 39 U/L, p = 0.002), higher mean white blood cell (WBC) counts (16.3 K/mm3 vs 12.8 K/mm3, p < 0.001), and a higher prevalence of >5 RBCs/hpf on urinalysis (7/22 vs 54/427, p = 0.02). There was no significant difference (p > 0.05) between moderate-risk patients with and without IAIs in initial serum concentrations of amylase, initial hematocrit, drop in hematocrit >5 percentage points in the ED, or initial serum bicarbonate concentrations. Conclusion: In children hospitalized for blunt torso trauma who are at moderate risk for IAI, ED findings of abdominal abrasions, an abnormal chest examination, and microscopic hematuria as well as elevated levels of AST and ALT, and elevated WBC count are associated with IAI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-806
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Abdominal injury
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Blunt injury
  • Pediatric injury
  • Torso injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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