Hypothermia as an Outcome Predictor Tool in Pediatric Trauma: A Propensity-Matched Analysis

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2021 Jun 1;37(6):e284-e291. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001588.


Objective: Hypothermia is an independent risk factor for mortality in adult trauma patients. Two small studies have shown similar results in pediatric trauma patients. Temperature is not included in any pediatric trauma assessment scores. This study sought to compare mortality and various descriptive outcomes between pediatric hypothermic and normothermic trauma patients.

Methods: Data were obtained from the National Trauma Database from 2009 to 2012. Patients meeting inclusion criteria were stratified by presence of isolated head injury, head injury with multiple trauma, and absence of head injury. These groups were then subdivided into hypothermic (temperature ≤36°C) and normothermic groups. We used propensity score matching to 1:1 match hypothermic and normothermic patients. Mortality, neurosurgical interventions, endotracheal intubation, blood transfusion, length of stay, laparotomy, thoracotomy, conversion of cardiac rhythm, and time receiving mechanical ventilation were evaluated.

Results: Data from 3,011,482 patients were obtained. There were 414,562 patients who met the inclusion criteria. In all patients meeting inclusion criteria, hypothermia was a significant risk factor in all outcomes measured. Following stratification and 1:1 matching, in all groups, hypothermia was associated with increased mortality (P < 0.0001), increased rate of endotracheal intubation (P < 0.0002), increased need for blood transfusion (P < 0.0025), and conversion of cardiac rhythm (P < 0.0027).

Conclusion: Hypothermia has been shown to be a significant prognostic indicator in the pediatric trauma patient with further potential application. Future studies are indicated to evaluate the incorporation of hypothermia into the Pediatric Trauma Score not only to help predict injury severity and mortality but also to improve appropriate and expeditious patient transfer to pediatric trauma centers and potentially facilitate earlier intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia* / therapy
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Propensity Score
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Trauma Centers