Rate and Prediction of Traumatic Injuries Detected by Abdominal Computed Tomography Scan in Intubated Children

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Recent concerns about the lifetime cancer risk associated computed tomography (CT) caused us to reevaluate the utility of this test in traumatized children. In addition, little is known regarding the utility of abdominal CT in children who have been emergently intubated. We sought to describe the injuries identified by abdominal CTs in intubated pediatric trauma patients and create a derivation set of predictors of intra-abdominal injury in this patient population.


A review was conducted of patients cared for at a Level I pediatric trauma center. Patients were included if they were emergently intubated after blunt trauma and had an emergent abdominal CT performed. Outcome measures included the presence of an intra-abdominal injury on CT, the need for exploratory laparotomy (ELAP), the findings of the ELAP, and death. Logistic regression was used to determine which variables were associated with an abnormal abdominal CT scan.


In all, 118 met inclusion criteria; the median age was 7.2 years. Thirty- two patients (27.1%) were found to have at least one abdominal injury on CT scan. One ELAP was performed and 12 patients died. Of the variables analyzed, abdominal examination abnormalities and elevated liver function tests (LFTs) were significantly associated with injuries. When both were abnormal, 75% of patients (12/16) had abnormal scans (sensitivity = 71%, specificity = 92%, positive predictive value = 75%, negative predictive value = 91%).


In this series, a significant number of intubated pediatric trauma victims had intra-abdominal injuries identified by CT scan. The presence of abnormal abdominal examination findings and elevated LFTs appear to predict an abnormal CT scan.

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