Traumatic Abdominal Wall Hernia in Children by Handlebar Injury: When to Suspect, Scan, and Call the Surgeon

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Traumatic abdominal wall hernias (TAWHs) can be defined as a herniation through disrupted musculature and fascia associated with blunt trauma. They are seen in approximately 1% of patients with blunt abdominal trauma. Data on TAWH in the pediatric population are very limited and principally based on case reports and a few case series. Past reports have indicated that the presence of the “handlebar sign” confers an increased risk of internal injury. Concomitant internal injuries are reported with an incidence between 25% and 70%, and occult hernias may also occur and are usually detected only by abdominal computed tomography scan and ultrasonography. The treatment of TAWH consists in surgical exploration through closure of the defect. We describe 2 cases of TAWH due to blunt impact by bicycle handlebars that occurred in our department with a brief literature review. Our objectives are to describe the variable clinical presentations and management of these events. We hope to provide a useful tool for the clinician to increase early clinical suspicion and detection of this insidious injury.

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