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Ann Emerg Med. 1991 Jun;20(6):636-40.

The spectrum of liver and spleen injuries in children: failure of the pediatric trauma score and clinical signs to predict isolated injuries.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital.



To determine whether potentially life-threatening intra-abdominal injuries occur in the absence of multisystem trauma in children, and to determine the usefulness of physical examination and a pediatric triage score in the assessment of liver and spleen injuries in children.


Retrospective study.


Admissions to a children's hospital from October 1982 through September 1989 who were found to have liver or spleen injuries. Seventy-seven patients were identified; 55 were male, 22 were female. Mean age was 9 years and 3 months (+/- 56 months) with a range of 22 months to 20 years, 4 months. Clinical signs were recorded and a Pediatric Trauma Score (PTS) and Injury Severity Score (ISS) were calculated for each patient.


Fifty-four patients (70%) had a spleen injury, 18 (23%) had a liver injury, and five (7%) had both liver and spleen injuries. Patients were managed without surgery in 63 of 77 cases (82%); two died. Fifty-one of 77 patients (66%) received an ISS of 18 or less; 26 patients (34%) received a score of more than 18. Forty-four of the 51 patients (86%) with an ISS of 18 or less had a normal pulse (120 or less); 48 of the 51 (94%) had a normal systolic blood pressure (90 mm Hg or more). A strong negative correlation (r = -0.80; P = .001) was found between the two scores for children with multiple severe injuries (ISS of more than 18); there was poor correlation (r = -0.04; P greater than .05) between the two scores for isolated liver or spleen injury (ISS of 18 or less).


We conclude that liver or spleen damage may be present in children without other injuries and must be considered with a high index of suspicion, and that neither the initial clinical findings nor the PTS reliably predicts liver or spleen injuries in children with focal abdominal injuries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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