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J Pediatr Orthop. 2012 Jul-Aug;32(5):435-9. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0b013e318259f2b9.

Age-related patterns of spine injury in children involved in all-terrain vehicle accidents.

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  • 1Campbell Clinic-University of Tennessee, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, Memphis, TN 38104, USA.



With increases in use and power of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), there have been dramatic increases in both the number and severity of ATV-related injuries. The KIDS database showed a 240% increase in the number of children admitted to a hospital for an ATV-related injury between 1997 and 2006. Over the same time period, there was a 476% increase in the number of children with ATV-related spine injuries. To better understand the nature of these injuries, a series of pediatric ATV-related spine fractures at a regional pediatric trauma center were analyzed.


Records and radiographs of children and adolescents who presented to a regional pediatric trauma center with a spine injury as a result of an ATV accident were reviewed. In addition to demographic data, information was collected regarding length of stay, Glasgow Coma Score, Pediatric Trauma Score, treatment type, associated injuries, and hospital charges. Patients were divided into 2 groups based on age and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons guidelines for ATV use: younger children (age, 0 to 15 y) and older children (age, 16 to 18 y).


Fifty-three spine injuries were identified in 29 children (mean, 1.8 injuries/child) with an average age of 15.7 years; 16 (55%) had associated nonspine injuries and 13 had multiple spine injuries, contiguous in 9 and noncontiguous in 4. Four patients, all in the younger age group, had neurological injuries. Children older than 16 years had significantly lower Pediatric Trauma Scores and were more likely to have a thoracic spine fracture than younger children, who were more likely to have a lumbar fracture. Fourteen patients required surgery for their injuries, 7 for spine injuries and 7 for nonspine injuries; the mean hospital charge was almost $75,000 per patient.


ATV-related spine injuries in children and adolescents are high-energy injuries with a high rate of associated spine and nonspine injuries. ATV-related spine injuries are different from other ATV-related injuries in children in that they are more common in older children and in females. As musculoskeletal injuries are the most common ATV-related injuries in children, orthopaedic surgeons need to be aware of these differences, and have a high index of suspicion for associated injuries, including additional and often noncontiguous spine injuries.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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