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J Pediatr Surg. 1997 Feb;32(2):307-10; discussion 310-1.

The spectrum of pediatric injuries after a bomb blast.

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Department of Pathology, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Oklahoma City, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Pediatr Surg 1997 Jun;32(6):932.


The spectrum of pediatric injuries seen after a bomb blast is poorly documented. The pathophysiology of blast injuries differ significantly from other forms of trauma and typically result in large numbers of distinctly patterned injuries. On April 19, 1995, a truck bomb was detonated directly adjacent to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A total of 816 adults and children were injured or killed as a direct result of the blast. Twenty infants and children were seated by the window of the second floor day care center at the time of the explosion. The injuries incurred by all children involved in the blast were studied. Nineteen children, 16 of whom were in the day care center, died as a direct result of the blast. The injury patterns among the 19 dead children included a 90% (17 of 19) incidence of skull fractures, 15 of those with cerebral evisceration (skull capping); 37% with abdominal or thoracic injuries; 31% amputations; 47% arm fractures, 26% leg fractures; 21% burns; and 100% with extensive cutaneous contusions, avulsions, and lacerations. Forty-seven children sustained nonfatal injuries with only seven children requiring hospitalization. The injuries sustained by the seven hospitalized children included two open, depressed skull fractures, with partially extruded brain, two closed head injuries, three arm fractures, one leg fracture, one arterial injury, one splenic injury, five tympanic membrane perforations, three corneal abrasions, and four burn cases (1 > 40% body surface area [BSA]). After a bomb blast, pediatric patients sustain a high incidence of cranial injuries. Fractures and traumatic amputations are common. Intraabdominal and thoracic injuries occur frequently in the deceased but infrequently in survivors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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