The screening pelvic radiograph in pediatric trauma

Pediatr Radiol. 2001 Jul;31(7):497-500. doi: 10.1007/s002470100473.


Background: Pelvic radiographs are routinely obtained in adult trauma to optimise early management. In adults, pelvic fractures are associated with high early transfusion requirement, high injury severity scores and an increased incidence of other abdominal and thoracic injuries. It is unclear whether this holds true in children.

Objective: To determine whether the screening pelvic radiograph is necessary in paediatric trauma.

Materials and methods: The notes of all patients who presented after trauma to the Starship Children's Hospital and were triaged to the resuscitation room during 1997 were reviewed. Results of initial radiography were obtained and correlated with later imaging.

Results: Our review of 444 injured children seen over a period of 1 year revealed that of 347 children who had screening pelvic radiographs, only 1 had a pelvic fracture. The fracture in this child was clinically apparent and required no specific treatment.

Conclusions: The presence of a pelvic fracture is rare in injured children. By omitting screening pelvic radiographs there are potential benefits, including reduced radiation exposure to children and cost savings. Uninterpretable or abnormal clinical examination or haematuria requires further investigation, but routine screening for pelvic fracture is unnecessary.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Pelvis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pelvis / injuries
  • Radiography
  • Triage
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnostic imaging*