Epidemiology and management of abdominal injuries in children

Pradip P. Chaudhari*, Jonathan Rodean, Ryan G. Spurrier, Matt Hall, Jennifer R. Marin, Sriram Ramgopal, Elizabeth R. Alpern, Samir S. Shah, Stephen B. Freedman, Eyal Cohen, Rustin B. Morse, Mark I. Neuman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Although more guideline-adherent care has been described in pediatric compared to adult trauma centers, we aimed to provide a more detailed characterization of management and resource utilization of children with intra-abdominal injury (IAI) within pediatric centers. Our primary objective was to describe the epidemiology, diagnostic evaluation, and management of children with IAI across U.S. children's hospitals. Our secondary objective was to describe the interhospital variation in surgical management of children with IAI. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 33 hospitals in the Pediatric Health Information System. We included children aged <18 years evaluated in the emergency department from 2010 to 2019 with IAI, as defined by ICD coding, and who underwent an abdominal computed tomography (CT). Our primary outcome was abdominal surgery. We categorized IAI by organ system and described resource utilization data. We used generalized linear regression to calculate adjusted hospital-level proportions of abdominal surgery, with a random effect for hospital. Results: We studied 9265 children with IAI. Median (IQR) age was 9.0 (6.0–13.0) years. Abdominal surgery was performed in 16% (n = 1479) of children, with the lowest proportion of abdominal surgery observed in children aged <5 years. Liver (38.6%) and spleen (32.1%) were the most common organs injured. A total of 3.1% of children with liver injuries and 2.8% with splenic injuries underwent abdominal surgery. Although there was variation in rates of surgery across hospitals (p < 0.001), only three of 33 hospitals had rates that were statistically different from the aggregate mean of 16%. Conclusions: Most children with IAI are managed nonoperatively, and most children's hospitals manage children with IAI similarly. These data can be used to inform future benchmarking efforts across hospitals to assess concordance with guidelines for the management of children with IAI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-953
Number of pages10
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • pediatric abdominal trauma
  • pediatric emergency medicine
  • pediatric intra-abdominal injury
  • pediatric trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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