Adolescent blunt solid organ injury: Differences in management strategies and outcomes between pediatric and adult trauma centers

Am J Surg. 2022 Jul;224(1 Pt A):13-17. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2022.02.054. Epub 2022 Feb 21.


Background: Adolescents with blunt solid organ injuries (BSOI) are cared for at both pediatric trauma centers (PTC) and adult trauma centers (ATC). Over the past decade, treatment strategies have shifted towards non-operative management with reported favorable outcomes. The aim of this study was to compare management strategies and outcomes between PTC and ATC.

Methods: We queried the 2016-2018 Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) datasets to identify adolescents between the ages of 16 and 19 with BSOI. Characteristics were stratified by center type (pediatric or adult) for comparative analyses. Separate logistic regressions were used to assess the association of hospital type, location of injury, age, gender, weight, Glascow Coma Score (GCS), Injury Severity Score (ISS), and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions for outcomes of interest.

Results: Among the 3,011,310 patients enrolled in the 2016-2018 TQIP datasets, 106,892 (3.5%) had a BSOI ICD9/10 code. Of those, 9,193 (8.6%) were between 16 and 19 years of age and included in this analysis. Within this cohort, 6,073 (66.1%) were managed at an ATC and 3,120 (33.9%) were managed at a PTC. While statistically different, there were no clinically relevant differences for age, weight, and sex between groups. A significantly higher ISS and lower GCS score were observed among those admitted to ATC compared to PTC. ICU admissions were more frequent at ATC. Number of blood transfusions by 4 h after presentation were also higher among those admitted to an ATC. Despite a lower ISS and higher GCS at presentation, mortality was higher among those treated at a PTC with an odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 2.42 (1.31-4.53). After excluding adolescents with a traumatic brain injury, a common cause of mortality among adolescent trauma patients, these differences in outcomes persisted.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that adolescents with BSOI managed at a PTC are less likely to receive blood transfusions by 4 h of admission or be admitted to the ICU than those managed at an ATC. However, this more conservative approach may come at the expense of higher overall mortality. Further work is needed to understand these differences and determine if PTC need to be more aggressive in managing BSOI.

Keywords: Adult trauma centers; Blunt solid organ injury; Mortality; Non-operative management; Pediatric trauma centers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trauma Centers*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating*
  • Young Adult