Background: Incidence of dog bites continues to rise among the pediatric population and serves as a public health threat for the well-being of children. Plastic surgeons are at the forefront of initial management and eventual outcome of these devastating injuries. This study set out to determine the nature of dog bite injuries treated over a 3-year period at a large level 1 pediatric trauma center.
Methods: A retrospective review of emergency room records of all pediatric patients (age, 0-18 years old) who sustained dog bites between January 2012 and December 2014 were gathered. All details about age of patient, location and severity of dog bites, type of dog breed, antibiotics given, and emergency versus operative treatment were recorded and analyzed.
Results: One hundred eight patients aged 5 months to 18 years old were treated in the emergency department after suffering dog bite injuries during the study period. The highest incidence of dog bites occurred in preschool children. The mean age for patients who required operative repair was lower than the mean age for patients who underwent primary closure in the emergency department. The location of injury was most commonly isolated to the head/neck region. Of the 56 cases that had an identified dog breed, pit bulls accounted for 48.2% of the dog bites, and 47.8% of pit bull bites required intervention in the operating room.
Conclusion: Children with large dog bite injuries require more immediate care in a level 1 pediatric trauma hospitals in order to optimize their hospitalization course and eventual outcome.