A Trauma Series in the Injured Child: Do We Really Need It?

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To study the use of trauma series radiographs in children that required activation of a trauma call.


A retrospective review of patients younger than 16 years who presented to The Children's Hospital at Westmead between January and December 2004 with an injury that required activation of the trauma team. Patients transferred from other institutions were excluded.


Two hundred seventy-four children were included in the study, with 166 boys. The mean age was 8 years, and average Injury Severity Score was 4. Sixteen children had an Injury Severity Score of above 15. One hundred thirty-one children had a complete trauma series performed; 104 had one or more of the series performed, whereas 39 had no radiographs. Data analysis revealed that patients with findings in a chest radiograph (13) had either chest wall contusion(s) or reduced air entry on the involved side. Logistic regression analyses identified features that were significantly associated with a positive finding on the radiographs of the anteroposterior chest including a distracting injury in the chest area (odds ratio [OR], 10.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.98-36.97), abnormal air entry on auscultation (OR, 31.86; 95% CI, 2.80-365.12), and need for intubation (OR, 6.23; 95% CI, 1.56-24.91). However, no clinical variable(s) showed a statistically significant correlation with abnormal radiographic findings on the lateral cervical spine (2) or anteroposterior pelvis (4).


This study suggests that selective use of individual components of the full trauma series in the conscious pediatric patient, when an adequate clinical examination can be performed, would be safe. This approach should reduce the exposure to ionizing radiation of pediatric trauma patients and hospital staff.

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