Penetrating trauma in children and adolescents in Pietermaritzburg
Background: This project aims to review the spectrum and outcome of penetrating trauma in children and adolescents with the objective of defining the extent of the problem and of developing strategies to reduce the incidence and severity of this form of trauma.
Methods: All patients less than eighteen years of age who were admitted to the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service (PMTS) following penetrating trauma between December 2012 and December 2018 were identified from the Hybrid Electronic Medical Registry (HEMR).
Results: During the five-year period under review, a total of 164 patients less than eighteen years of age sustained penetrating trauma and were admitted to the PMTS. There were 138 males and 26 females. The mean age was 13.29 years and the median age 15 years. There were 70 stab wounds (SW) and 73 gunshot wounds (GSW). There were 21 non-intentional impalement injuries. The mean ISS was 9.04 and the median was 9. A total of 155 plain X-rays were performed, 50 CT scans and 51 CT angiograms in this cohort of patients. Only two ultrasound examinations were performed. A total of 76 patients required an operation, which included 50 laparotomies. Of the patients who underwent a laparotomy, 18 required a repeat laparotomy. There were 46 other procedures undertaken in this cohort of patients, which included two thoracotomies, three laparoscopies and two thoracotomies. The median hospital stay was 2 days and 17 (10%) patients required ICU admission and 7 (4%) died.
Conclusion: Penetrating trauma in children and adolescents is associated with significant mortality and morbidity. There are similarities with the management of these injuries in adults, but further work is required to ensure that paediatric management algorithms are evidence based.
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