II. Precautions: Pitfalls in childhood Trauma assessment

  1. General
    1. Children are higher risk for multiple injuries (compact collection of vital organs)
    2. Rapid deterioration from compensated shock with normal Blood Pressure
      1. Due to initial compensatory Vasoconstriction
      2. Rapid heat loss with Secondary Hypothermia (due to large BSA to Mass ratio)
    3. Waddell triad (child pedestrian struck by car)
      1. Closed Head Injury
      2. Intraabdominal Trauma
      3. Midshaft Femur Fracture
  2. Airway
    1. See Advanced Airway for airway related precautions in children
    2. Higher risk of soft tissue upper airway obstruction (small, narrow funnel shaped upper airway)
  3. Head and Neck
    1. See Pediatric Head Injury Algorithm (PECARN)
    2. Children have higher risk of Head Injury (larger head)
    3. Risk of SCIWORA
      1. Occult spinous injury despite negative XRay or CT spine (spinal ligamentous laxity)
  4. Chest
    1. Higher risk for pulmonary injury (thin, pliable chest wall transmits impact to lungs)
    2. Pneumothorax
      1. See Needle Decompression of Thorax, Small Calibre Chest Tube and Chest Tube
      2. Tension Pneumothorax poorly tolerated (mobile mediastinum)
      3. Avoid discharging children with Chest Tube (higher risk of displacement)
    3. Chest XRay is preferred initial chest imaging modality
      1. Blunt aortic injury is uncommon in children (esp. as an isolated injury)
      2. Rib Fractures are rare in children (if present, they suggest serious injury Mechanism)
    4. Avoid CT chest as initial imaging in children (consider discussing with Pediatric Trauma surgeon)
      1. Seat Belt Sign in a child is not an indication for chest CT
      2. Consider if suspected Pulmonary Contusion or obvious Rib Fracture (high Mechanism injury)
  5. Abdomen
    1. See Pediatric Blunt Abdominal Trauma
    2. See Pediatric Blunt Abdominal Trauma Decision Rule
    3. Higher risk of intra-Abdominal Injury (abdominal organs are more anterior)
  6. Extremities
    1. Higher risk for incomplete, buckle, or occult Fractures (due to soft bones with thick periostium)

III. References

  1. Claudius, Behar and Benjamin in Herbert (2016) EM:Rap 16(5): 4-5
  2. Fuchs and Yamamoto (2012) APLS, Jones and Bartlett, Burlington, p. 208

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