Blunt cerebrovascular injury in pediatric trauma: A national database study

Dominic A. Harris, Danielle E. Sorte, Sandi K. Lam, Andrew P. Carlson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE The incidence of blunt cerebrovascular injury (BCVI) has not been well characterized in the pediatric population. The goal of this study was to describe the incidence, patient characteristics, and risk factors for pediatric patients with cerebrovascular injuries. METHODS The authors collected data from the Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID), a nationally representative database of pediatric admissions, for years 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2012. RESULTS Among an estimated 646,549 admissions for blunt trauma, 2150 were associated with BCVI, an overall incidence of 0.33%. The incidence of BCVI nearly doubled from 0.24% in 2000 to 0.49% in 2012. Patients 4 to 13 years of age were less likely to have BCVI than those in the youngest (0–3 years) and oldest age groups comprising adolescents (14–17 years) and young adults (18–20 years). BCVIs were associated with cervical (adjusted OR [aOR] 4.6, 95% CI 3.8–5.5), skull base (aOR 3.0, 95% CI 2.5–3.6), clavicular (aOR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1–1.8), and facial (aOR 1.2, 95% CI 1.0–1.5) fractures, as well as intracranial hemorrhage (aOR 2.7, 95% CI 2.2–3.2) and traumatic brain injury (aOR 2.0, 95% CI 1.7–2.3). Mechanism of injury was also independently associated with BCVI: motor vehicle collision (aOR 1.7, 95% CI 1.3–2.2) and struck pedestrian (aOR 1.4, 95% CI 1.0–1.9). Among pediatric patients with BCVI, 37.4% had cerebral ischemic infarction with an in-hospital mortality of 12.7%, and patients with stroke had 20% mortality. CONCLUSIONS The incidence of pediatric BCVI is increasing, likely due to increased use of screening, but remains lower than that in the adult population. Risk factors include the presence of cervical, facial, clavicular, and skull base fractures, similar to that of the adult population. Diagnosed BCVI is associated with a relatively high incidence of stroke with increased morbidity and mortality. The use of adult screening criteria is likely reasonable given the similarity in the risk factors identified in this study. Further studies are needed to investigate the role of treatment with antiplatelet agents or anticoagulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-460
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Blunt cerebrovascular injury
  • National database
  • Pediatric trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology

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