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J Am Coll Surg. 2006 Feb;202(2):247-51. Epub 2005 Dec 19.

Variation in treatment of pediatric spleen injury at trauma centers versus nontrauma centers: a call for dissemination of American Pediatric Surgical Association benchmarks and guidelines.

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Department of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, New York, NY 10032, USA.



American Pediatric Surgical Association consensus guidelines for children with blunt spleen injuries have been defined and validated in children's hospitals, but large administrative data sets indicate that only 10% to 15% of children with blunt spleen injuries are treated at children's hospitals. We sought to identify the frequency and compare the treatment of children with spleen injury in hospitals with and without recognized trauma expertise, with the aim of identifying a meaningful target for dissemination of benchmarks and consensus guidelines.


State health departments' administrative data sets from California, Florida, New Jersey, and New York were analyzed for 2000, 2001, and 2002. All children with head injury or other nonspleen abdominal injuries requiring surgery were excluded. Injury Severity Scores were determined by ICDMAP-90.


There were 3,232 patients with blunt spleen injury. Trauma centers had a significantly lower rate of operation for both multiply injured patients (15.3% versus 19.3%, p < 0.001) and those with isolated injury (9.2% versus 18.5%, p < 0.0001) when compared with nontrauma centers. The operative rates at both trauma centers and nontrauma centers exceed published American Pediatric Surgical Association benchmarks for all children with spleen injury (5% to 11%) and the subset with isolated spleen injury (0% to 3%). Independent risk factors for splenectomy included ages 15 to 19 years (p < 0.002), spleen injury severity (p < 0.0001), and presence of multiple injuries (p < 0.04). Adjusted odds ratio for risk of splenic operation in all patients with spleen injury was 2.122 (95% CI:1.455- 3.096) when treated at a nontrauma center (p < 0.0001).


These multistate discharge data indicate that treatment of children with blunt spleen injury differs significantly when comparing trauma centers and nontrauma centers. Because nearly two-thirds of these children were treated at trauma centers, dissemination of American Pediatric Surgical Association guidelines and benchmarks through state or regional trauma systems may reduce the number of children having operations for splenic injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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