Epidemiology, treatment, and outcomes of acute limb ischemia in the pediatric population

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Abstract

Objective:

Acute limb ischemia (ALI) in a pediatric patient is a rare condition but may result in lifelong disability. A paucity of evidence exists to derive treatment guidelines; some surgeons advocate conservative management over invasive measures. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of surgical revascularization in the pediatric population and outcomes of conservative vs surgical management.

Methods:

The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Database (California, Iowa, and New York) between 2007 and 2013 was queried using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes. Patients were stratified into two cohorts: conservative management and surgical management. Each group was further subdivided into three age groups: infant (<24 months), child (<12 years), and adolescent (<18 years). Outcome variables included mortality, amputation status, length of hospital stay, and hospital charge.

Results:

A total of 1576 pediatric patients with ALI were identified among 6,122,535 pediatric admissions (26 per 100,000 admissions). Average age was 9.9 ± 7.1 years. There were 263 patients who underwent surgical revascularization. The conservative management group was younger (5.8 ± 6.2 vs 9.2 ± 6.1 years; P < .01). Otherwise, baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups. Overall, the amputation rate was low (<2%; n = 28), especially in the upper extremities (<0.2%). Outcomes of conservative management and surgical revascularization were similar for mortality (5.0% vs 3.4%; P = .34), amputation (1.9% vs 1.1%; P = .46), length of hospital stay (15.4 vs 12.9 days; P = .07), and hospital charge ($281,794 vs $288,507; P = .28). In subgroup analysis, infants had less concomitant orthopedic injury than other age groups. Children demonstrated a higher likelihood of associated upper extremity injury and operative revascularization (P < .01) than infants or adolescents. In infants, mortality was higher and surgical intervention was associated with longer hospital stay (29.5 ± 34.4 days vs 45.6 ± 31.6 days; P = .02) and larger health care expenditure ($467,885 ± $638,653 vs $1,099,343 ± $695,872; P < .01).

Conclusions:

Pediatric ALI is a rare entity and is associated with low amputation and mortality rates. Among the pediatric age cohorts, infants with ALI are at higher risk of in-hospital mortality than older age groups are. Surgical intervention is not associated with improved limb salvage or mortality. Nonoperative management may be considered an initial treatment modality, but further research is needed to elucidate which important subset of pediatric patients benefit from open or endovascular operative intervention.

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