Significance of chest trauma in children

South Med J. 1996 May;89(5):494-6. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199605000-00009.


Chest trauma in children is a marker of injury severity and is associated with a high mortality rate. This retrospective study of 1,356 trauma patients from a private pediatric hospital over a 2.5-year period identified 82 patients with chest injuries and a mortality rate of 22%. Results of Injury Severity Score, Glasgow Coma Scale, and Revised Trauma Score all indicated that children with chest injuries sustained more severe injuries. The presence of any extrathoracic injury was associated with a higher mortality (29%) than chest injury alone (4.3%). The type of extrathoracic injury was important, with head and neck injuries resulting in the highest mortality. Specific chest injuries, such as rib fractures and pulmonary contusions, were not related to increased mortality unless there was an associated extrathoracic injury. Many reports have shown a high mortality associated with chest trauma. This study suggests that it is the associated extrathoracic injury, rather than the chest injury itself, that is the real cause of the high mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / epidemiology
  • Abdominal Injuries / mortality
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Contusions / epidemiology
  • Contusions / mortality
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone / mortality
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Lung Injury
  • Multiple Trauma / epidemiology
  • Multiple Trauma / mortality
  • Neck Injuries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rib Fractures / epidemiology
  • Rib Fractures / mortality
  • Survival Rate
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Thoracic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Thoracic Injuries / mortality*
  • Trauma Severity Indices