Objective: To update the surgical management of injuries from dog bites of the scalp, face, and neck in children.
Study design: Retrospective case review.
Methods: A retrospective review of 44 children with dog bites of the scalp, face, and neck was carried out at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (Albuquerque, NM) between January 1, 1995, and December 31, 2000. Data on demographics, hospitalization, surgery, and outcome were collected and entered into an Access 2000 database.
Results: The children ranged in age from 1.0 to 12.1 years. The mean age of the study population was 5.2 years (+/-2.9 y standard deviation). Sixteen severely injured children (36%) were hospitalized to repair damage to the airway and blood vessels of the neck or to treat hemodynamic compromise. The length of stay in hospital ranged from 1 to 16 days. The most common injury in these children was a scalp laceration (57%). Twenty-six less severely injured children (64%) were not hospitalized. The most common surgery in these children (88%) was repair of multiple facial lacerations. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was noted in the medical records of 12 children (29%). Complications occurred in five children (31%) who were hospitalized and nine children (35%) who were not hospitalized.
Conclusions: The injured child is typically a 5-year-old boy attacked by a familiar dog at home or in the local neighborhood. Children with the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder appear to be at a higher risk of dog bite injuries and should be monitored during interactions with dogs. The goal of surgical management for severely injured children is to avoid immediate mortality and to establish a schedule of multiple-staged procedures for revision surgeries. An optimal cosmetic result is the principal goal for less severely injured children.