Incidence of iatrogenesis associated with osteopathic manipulative treatment of pediatric patients

J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006 Oct;106(10):605-8.


Context: Although studies have been published documenting the safety and efficacy of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in adults, no studies exist documenting the safety of OMT in pediatric patients.

Objective: To determine the incidence of iatrogenesis (ie, aggravations and complications) derived from OMT in the pediatric patient population.

Design: A retrospective review of medical records was conducted looking for documentation of aggravations or complications subsequent to OMT. Treatment-associated aggravations were defined as worsening of symptoms or complaints after treatment. Treatment complications were defined as cerebrovascular accidents, dislocation, fracture, pneumothorax, sprains and strains, or death as a treatment outcome. The authors documented all occurrences of treatment-associated aggravations or complications recorded at each office visit, as well as the timing of an aggravation between office visits.

Setting: Medical records of pediatric patients receiving OMT and being seen more than twice at osteopathic manipulative medicine offices in Pennsylvania and Virginia were reviewed.

Patients: Of 502 pediatric patients' medical records reviewed, 346 met the inclusion criteria of two or more office visits for which adequate follow-up data were available.

Results: No treatment-associated complications were documented. Thirty-one (9%) patients had documented treatment-associated aggravations. There was no significant difference between the proportion of male and female patients considered in the study, relative to a 50/50 distribution (females, 48%; males, 52%).

Conclusions: Osteopathic manipulative treatment appears to be a safe treatment modality in the pediatric population when administered by physicians with expertise in OMT. Future studies should be prospective and include larger numbers of patients to document the safety of OMT in this clinical application.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies