Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Trends in operative management of pediatric splenic injury in a regional trauma system.

TitleTrends in operative management of pediatric splenic injury in a regional trauma system.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsDavis DH, Localio RA, Stafford PW, Helfaer MA, Durbin D
Date Published2005 Jan
KeywordsAbdominal Injuries, Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Emergency Service, Hospital, Female, Humans, Infant, Injury Severity Score, Logistic Models, Male, Pennsylvania, Physician's Practice Patterns, Spleen, Splenectomy, Surgical Procedures, Operative, Trauma Centers, Traumatology, Wounds, Nonpenetrating

OBJECTIVE: Selective nonoperative management of pediatric blunt splenic injury became the standard of care in the late 1980s. The extent to which this practice has been adopted in both trauma centers and nontrauma hospitals has been investigated sporadically. Several studies have demonstrated significant variations in practice patterns; however, most published studies capture only a selective population over a relatively short time interval, often without simultaneous adjustment for confounding variables. The objective of this study was to characterize the variation in operative versus nonoperative management of blunt splenic injury in children in nontrauma hospitals and in trauma centers with varying resources for pediatric care within a regionalized trauma system in the past decade.

METHODS: The study population included all children who were younger than 19 years and had a diagnosis of blunt injury to the spleen (International Classification of Diseases code 865.00-865.09) and were admitted to each of the 175 acute care hospitals in Pennsylvania between 1991 and 2000. The proportion of patients who were treated operatively was stratified by trauma-level certification and adjusted for age and splenic injury severity. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to generate probabilities of splenectomy by age, injury severity, and hospital type.

RESULTS: From 1991 through 2000 in Pennsylvania, 3245 children sustained blunt splenic injury that required hospitalization; 752 (23.2%) were treated operatively. Generally, as age and splenic injury severity increased, the proportion of patients who were treated operatively increased. Compared with pediatric trauma centers, the relative risk (with associated 95% confidence interval) of splenectomy was 4.4 (3.0-6.3) for level 1 trauma centers with additional qualifications in pediatrics; 6.2 (4.4-8.7) for level 1 trauma centers, 6.3 (5.3-7.4) for level 2 trauma centers, and 5.0 (4.2-5.9) for nontrauma centers. Significant variation in practice pattern was seen among hospital types and over time even after adjustment for age and injury severity.

CONCLUSIONS: The operative management of splenic injury in children varied significantly by hospital trauma status and over time during the past decade in Pennsylvania. Given the relative benefits of nonoperative treatment for children with blunt splenic injury, these results highlight the need for more widespread and standardized adoption of this treatment, particularly in hospitals without a large volume of pediatric trauma patients.

Alternate JournalPediatrics
PubMed ID15629986