Incidence of morbidity from penetrating palate trauma

Kara Hennelly, Amir Kimia, Lois Lee, Dwight Jones, Stephen C. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The true rate of neurologic sequelae and infection from penetrating palatal trauma in children is unknown, which leads to significant variation in testing and treatment. OBJECTIVES: To (1) determine the incidence of stroke and infection in well-appearing children with penetrating palatal trauma and (2) describe patterns of testing and treatment for uncomplicated palatal trauma. METHODS: We assembled a retrospective cohort of children aged 9 months to 18 years with palatal trauma seen in the emergency department (ED) at a tertiary care pediatric hospital. Patients met the following definition: well-appearing with normal neurologic examination and a palate laceration but no findings requiring immediate operative care. Stroke was defined as any abnormal neurologic examination secondary to palatal trauma. Infection was defined as cellulitis or abscess secondary to palatal injury. All abnormal computed tomographic angiography (CTA) findings, except for free air, were considered positive and potentially significant. RESULTS: We identified 1656 potential subjects. A total of 995 of 1656 subjects were screened, and 205 of 995 met the case definition. A total of 122 of 205 had follow-up through at least 1 week after injury. The incidence of stroke in our study population was 0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0-2.5). One of 116 patients developed infection, for an incidence of 0.9% (95% CI: 0-5.3). A total of 90 of 205 (44%) subjects had CTA scans; the results of 9 (10%) were positive. No patients with positive CTA findings required operative care. No patients received anticoagulant medications. CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of morbidity from penetrating palatal trauma in the well-appearing child is extremely low. Diagnostic evaluation in the ED did not prompt clinical interventions other than antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1578-e1584
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Diagnostic tests
  • Emergency medical services
  • Oropharynx
  • Palate
  • Pediatric
  • Stroke
  • Trauma


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