The Predictors for Positive Yield Abdominal Computed Tomography in Pediatric Abdominal Trauma

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Abdominal computed tomography (ACT) use in the initial evaluation of pediatric abdominal trauma is liberal in most instances. The aim of this study was to identify the predictors for a positive yield ACT scan in this population.


A prospective, cohort, single-center observational study was conducted at Children’s Hospital at Westmead, New South Wales, from January 2008 to June 2015 on 240 pediatric abdominal trauma patients who had abdominal computed tomography. Clinical, laboratory, imaging, and interventional variables were explored with univariate and multivariate analyses among children who sustained abdominal trauma.


Of 240 patients, positive ACT scans were found in 161 patients (67%), 112 patients (47%) had intra-abdominal injury, and 20 patients (8%) required invasive therapeutic interventions. Mortality rate was 1.7% (4 patients) due to nonabdominal causes. Multivariate analyses revealed that increasing age (odds ratio [OR], 1.12; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02–1.24; P = 0.024), high injury severity score (OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.07–1.21; P < 0.001), abnormal abdominal examination (OR, 5.95; 95% CI, 2.08–17.01; P = 0.001), elevated alanine aminotransferase greater than 125 IU/L (OR, 46.28; 95% CI, 2.81–762.49; P = 0.007), abnormal pelvic radiograph (OR, 14.03; 95% CI, 2.39–82.28; P = 0.003), presence of gross hematuria (OR, 4.14; 95% CI, 1.04–18.23; P = 0.044), low initial hematocrit level (less than 30%) (OR, 8.51; 95% CI, 1.14–63.70; P = 0.037), and positive focused assessment with sonography for trauma (OR, 2.61; 95% CI, 1.01–7.28; P = 0.048) remained significantly associated with abnormal ACT scan. In contrast, those who required scanning of other body region(s) were less likely to have abnormal ACT scan (OR, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.14–0.86; P =0.022).


Integrating the abdominal examination findings, relevant laboratory values, and focused assessment with sonography for trauma results with the physicians’ suspicion may aid in stratifying patients for ACT scan. Further efforts should be made to decrease number of normal ACT scans; yet not to increase the number of delayed or missed injures with its inherent morbidity and mortality.

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