Is hospital admission and observation required after a normal abdominal computed tomography scan in children with blunt abdominal trauma?

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21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: The objective was to determine if hospital admission of children with blunt abdominal trauma for observation of possible intraabdominal injury (IAI) is necessary after a normal abdominal computed tomography (CT) scan in the emergency department (ED). Methods: The authors conducted a prospective observational cohort study of children less than 18 years of age with blunt abdominal trauma who underwent an abdominal CT scan in the ED. Abdominal CT scans were obtained with intravenous contrast but no oral contrast. The decision to hospitalize the patient was made by the attending emergency physician (EP) with the trauma or pediatric surgery teams. An abnormal abdominal CT scan was defined by the presence of any visualized IAI or findings suggestive of possible IAI (e.g., intraperitoneal fluid without solid organ injury). Patients were followed to determine if IAI was later diagnosed and the need for acute therapeutic intervention if IAI was present. Results: A total of 1,295 patients underwent abdominal CT, and 1,085 (84%) patients had normal abdominal CT scans in the ED and make up the study population. Seven-hundred thirty-seven (68%) were hospitalized, and 348 were discharged to home. None of the 348 patients discharged home and 2 of the 737 hospitalized patients were identified with an IAI after a normal initial abdominal CT. The IAIs in patients with normal initial CT scans included a 10-year-old with a mesenteric hematoma and serosal tear at laparotomy and a 10-year-old with a perinephric hematoma on repeat CT. Neither underwent specific therapy. The negative predictive value (NPV) of a normal abdominal CT scan for IAI was 99.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 99.3% to 100%). Conclusions: Children with blunt abdominal trauma and a normal abdominal CT scan in the ED are at very low risk of having a subsequently diagnosed IAI and are very unlikely to require a therapeutic intervention. Hospitalization of children for evaluation of possible undiagnosed IAI after a normal abdominal CT scan has a low yield and is generally unnecessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-899
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Volume15
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Keywords

  • Abdominal CT
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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