Computed Tomography of the Chest in Younger Pediatric Patients with Thoracic Blunt Trauma Rarely Changes Surgical Management

Irma T. Ugalde, Hei Kit Chan, Donna Mendez, Henry E. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Thoracic trauma is the second leading cause of death after traumatic brain injury in children presenting with blunt chest trauma, which represents 80% of thoracic trauma in children. We hypothesized that older children undergo more clinical and surgical changes in management than younger children screened for intrathoracic injury at a single, urban, pediatric Level I trauma center. Methods: In this retrospective observational study, we determined the frequencies and types of lesions diagnosed only by chest computed tomography (CCT) and resulting changes of clinical and surgical management among different age groups in a pediatric cohort examined for blunt trauma with chest radiograph and CCT. We used logistic regression to quantify variations in CCT diagnoses and changes in clinical and surgical management across age groups. For each age category, we determined the odds ratio for diagnosis made only on CCT and subsequent changes in all clinical management and, specifically, surgical management. We performed the test of trend to determine the relationship across age with changes in management resulting from additional diagnoses made by CCT. Results: We analyzed data on 1,235 patients screened for intrathoracic injury. We found the following overall clinical management and surgical management changes, respectively, per age group: 0-2 years, 5/128 (3.9) and 0/128 (0.0); 3-6 years, 11/212 (5.2) and 1/212 (0.5); 7-10 years, 16/175 (9.1) and 2/175 (1.1); 11-13 years, 17/188 (9.0) and 3/188 (1.6); 14-17 years, 58/532 (10.9) and 25/532 (4.7). There were no observed surgical management changes in the 0-2 age group and, thus, no estimated odds ratio could be calculated. The adjusted odds ratios for the occurrence of surgical change in management (14-17 age group as reference) was 0.1 (0.0-0.9) for 3-6 years, 0.3 (0.1-1.3) for 7-10 years, and 0.3 (0.1- 1.1) for 11-13 years. The trend of odds ratios across ages showed that with every subsequent year of life there was a 10% increase in management change and a 30% increase in surgical management change. Conclusion: Chest computed tomography plays a limited role in younger children and seldom significantly changes management albeit making additional diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-333
Number of pages10
JournalWestern Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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