Background: Traumatic injuries are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children. The purpose of the present study was to determine the incidence of nonaccidental trauma (NAT) and to compare the outcomes of accidental trauma (AT) patients with NAT patients at a large pediatric trauma center.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of 6186 trauma patients younger than 18 years evaluated during the period of 1996 to 2004.
Results: During the period of study, NAT accounted for 7.3% (n = 453) of trauma evaluations (n = 6186). Compared to AT, the NAT patient was younger, 12 vs 76 months (P < .05); were more severely injured, injury severity score 18 vs 9 (P < .05); and required both longer intensive care unit stay, 2 vs 1 day (P < .05), and overall hospital stay, 6 vs 3 days (P < .05). Craniotomy was required in 4.4% of NAT patients compared with 2.7 % of AT patients (P < .05). Abdominal exploration was necessary in 3.5% of NAT patients compared to 1.6% of AT patients. The mortality rate for NAT was 9.7% compared to 2.2% for AT (P < .05).
Conclusions: The surgeon caring for children must appreciate the high incidence of NAT with its increased morbidity and mortality relative to AT patients. A surgical evaluation should be performed promptly in NAT patients because of their frequent need for emergent intervention.