Penetrating neck trauma in children: a reappraisal

J Pediatr Surg. 1995 Feb;30(2):341-4. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(95)90586-3.


The management of penetrating neck injuries in adults is controversial, with a trend toward selective neck exploration. These injuries are uncommon in children, and only limited information exists regarding their management. To assess the management of these injuries in the authors' geographic region, they reviewed the records of children with injuries penetrating the platysma muscle who were treated between 1980 and 1994. Forty-six children (aged 2 to 16 years) suffered a total of 55 penetrating neck injuries. The injuries were classified according to type and location. Fifty-two percent were caused by missiles, 30% by stab wounds, and 18% by dog bites. Fifty-eight percent of injuries were in zone II, 31% in zone I, and only 11% in zone III. The diagnostic workup, including arteriography, esophagography, or endoscopy, was performed preoperatively in 10 patients. Overall, 21 patients had exploration, and the rate of negative explorations was 48%. All cases explored for bleeding or a positive diagnostic workup result were found to have significant injury. On the other hand, all neck explorations performed solely because of injury to zone II were negative. The overall morbidity and mortality rates were 31% and 7%, respectively. A more selective approach, similar to that used for adult patients, emphasizing preoperative diagnostic evaluation, is recommended to decrease the rate of negative neck explorations among children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Angiography
  • Bites and Stings
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Neck Injuries*
  • Neck Muscles / injuries*
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / complications
  • Wounds, Gunshot / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Penetrating* / classification
  • Wounds, Penetrating* / complications
  • Wounds, Penetrating* / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Penetrating* / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Stab / complications
  • Wounds, Stab / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Stab / epidemiology