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South African Journal of Surgery

versión On-line ISSN 2078-5151
versión impresa ISSN 0038-2361


REID, B et al. An audit of trauma laparotomy in children and adolescents highlights the role of damage control surgery and the need for a trauma systems approach to injury in this vulnerable population. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2022, vol.60, n.2, pp.97-102. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: This study reviews the indications and outcome of emergency laparotomy for paediatric trauma in a South African trauma centre. METHODS: This was a retrospective study of all children less than 18 years of age who underwent an emergency laparotomy for trauma between December 2012 and October 2020 at Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. RESULTS: During the eight-year period under review, a total of136 children of which 107 were male underwent a laparotomy for trauma. The median age was 14 years. There were 80 (57.1%) blunt mechanisms, and the rest were penetrating mechanisms. A total of 46 (33%) patients required ICU admission. Thirty-four patients developed a complication. These included nine cases of pneumonia, one case of renal failure, two patients developed abdominal collections, three wound-related complications, three neurological complications and one miscellaneous complication. There were seven (5%) deaths. The penetrating cohort were older than the blunt cohort. Solid viscera were more likely to be injured in the blunt cohort and hollow viscera more likely in the penetrating cohort. A total of 16 (11%) patients underwent damage control surgery (DCS). Of this cohort, there were three female children. Six sustained blunt trauma and ten penetrating trauma. A total of six (37%) of these children died. CONCLUSION: Emergency laparotomy for trauma in children is not infrequent in Pietermaritzburg and there is a high incidence of penetrating trauma in this cohort. The response to increased degrees of physiological derangement is the application of DCS. Ongoing efforts to develop and strengthen a paediatric trauma service appear to be justified.

Palabras clave : trauma laparotomy; children; adolescents; damage control surgery; trauma systems approach; vulnerable population.

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