Risk factors for blunt cerebrovascular injury in children: do they mimic those seen in adults?

J Trauma. 2011 Sep;71(3):559-64; discussion 564. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318226eadd.


Background: Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma guideline for the evaluation of blunt cerebrovascular injury (BCVI) states that pediatric trauma patients should be evaluated using the same criteria as the adult population. The purpose of our study was to determine whether adult criteria translate to the pediatric population.

Methods: Retrospective evaluation was performed at a Level I trauma center of blunt pediatric trauma patients (age <15 years) presenting over a 5-year period. Data obtained included patient demographics, presence of adult risk factors for BCVI (Glasgow coma scale ≤8, skull base fracture, cervical spine fracture, complex facial fractures, and soft tissue injury to the neck), presence of signs/symptoms of BCVI, method of evaluation, treatment, and outcome.

Results: A total of 1,209 pediatric trauma patients were admitted during the study period. While 128 patients met criteria on retrospective review for evaluation based on Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma criteria, only 52 patients (42%) received subsequent radiographic evaluation. In all, 14 carotid artery or vertebral artery injuries were identified in 11 patients (all admissions, 0.9% incidence; all screened, 21% incidence). Adult risk factors were present in 91% of patients diagnosed with an injury. Major thoracic injury was found in 67% of patients with carotid artery injuries. Cervical spine fracture was found in 100% of patients with vertebral artery injuries. Stroke occurred in four patients (36%). Stroke rate after admission for untreated patients was 38% (3/8) versus 0.0% in those treated (0/2). Mortality was 27% because of concomitant severe traumatic brain injury.

Conclusion: Risk factors for BCVI in the pediatric trauma patient appear to mimic those of the adult patient.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / etiology*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / diagnosis*
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / etiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Trauma Centers
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnosis*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / etiology*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy