Gunshot-associated Fractures in Children and Adolescents Treated at Two Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Centers

Academic Article


  • Introduction: Gunshot injuries are a potentially significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the pediatric population. The objective of this study was to evaluate the epidemiology, fracture locations, associated injuries, types of treatment, and complications of gunshot-associated fractures in children and adolescents treated at two level 1 trauma centers. Methods: The clinical and radiographic records of all children and adolescents who had a gunshot-associated fracture treated at 1 of 2 level 1 pediatric trauma centers between January, 2005, and April, 2013, were reviewed. The following characteristics were recorded: patient age and sex, type of weapon, fracture location, presence of neurovascular injury or other associated injuries, antibiotic treatment, method of stabilization, duration of hospital stay, complications, and need for subsequent procedures. Results: Forty-nine patients with 58 fractures were identified; 9 patients had multiple fractures. The 41 males and 8 females had an average age of 12.2 years (range, 1 to 18 y). The tibia and femur were the most common sites of fracture (19% each), followed by the small bones of foot (4%) and the fibula (4%). Most of the fractures (71%) were treated nonoperatively. Nearly half (47%) of the patients had additional injuries, including abdominal or genitourinary injuries, neuropraxia or nerve injuries, and vascular injuries. Two patients (4%) developed infections (1 superficial and 1 deep) that required multiple irrigation and debridement procedures. Three patients developed compartment syndrome, and 4 patients had vascular injuries requiring repair. Nearly a third of patients (35%) had fractures or complications that required additional operative procedures. Conclusions: This large retrospective study highlights the significant morbidity of fractures caused by gunshots. Although the overall infection rate was low and most of these fractures were successfully treated nonoperatively, many of the patients required an additional operative procedure and nearly half had additional nonorthopaedic injuries. This emphasizes the necessity of coordination among emergency, general surgeons, intensivist, and orthopaedic surgical teams. Level of Evidence: Level IV-retrospective case series.
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    Author List

  • Naranje SM; Gilbert SR; Stewart MG; Rush JK; Bleakney CA; McKay JE; Warner WC; Kelly DM; Sawyer JR
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 5
  • Volume

  • 36
  • Issue

  • 1