A retrospective study of 51 pediatric cases of traumatic asphyxia

J Cardiothorac Surg. 2022 Mar 13;17(1):34. doi: 10.1186/s13019-022-01773-2.


Background: Traumatic asphyxia (TA) is a rarely reported disease characterized as thoraco-cervico-facial petechiae, facial edema and cyanosis, subconjunctival hemorrhage and neurological symptoms. This study aimed to report 51 children of TA at the pediatric medical center of west China.

Methods: Scanned medical reports were reviewed and specific variables as age, sex, cause of injury, clinical manifestations and associated injuries were analyzed using SPSS 25.0.

Results: The average age of patients was 5.3 ± 2.9 (1.3-13.2) year-old. Thirty (58.8%) were boys and 21 (41.2%) were girls. Most TAs occurred during vehicle accident, object compression and stampede. All patients showed facial petechiae (100.0%, CI 93.0-100.0%), 25 (49.0%, CI 34.8-63.2%) out of 51 presented with facial edema, 29 (56.9%, CI 42.8-70.9%) presented with subconjunctival hemorrhage, including bilateral 27 and unilateral 2. Six patients had facial cyanosis (11.8%, CI 2.6-20.9%). Other symptoms were also presented as epileptic seizure, vomiting, incontinence, paraplegia, etc. The most frequent companion injury was pulmonary contusion (76.5%, CI 64.4-88.5%). Other companion injuries included mediastinal emphysema, fracture, cerebral contusion and hemorrhage, hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, abdominal organ contusion, mastoid hemorrhage, hematocele of paranasal sinuses, spinal cord injury, hepatic insufficiency, myocardial injury and retinal hemorrhage and edema. Treatment was mainly supportive. No death occurred in our study. The prognosis is rather good if without damage of central nervous system.

Conclusion: TA could bring out multiple symptoms, among which retinal hemorrhage and edema, spinal cord injury and viscera impairment have been less observed. Comprehensive physical and auxiliary examination should be performed considering TA. Its prognosis is rather good with focus on life-threatening complications.

Keywords: Pediatric; Thoracic trauma; Traumatic asphyxia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asphyxia* / complications
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Injuries*