Management and outcomes of traumatic hemothorax in children

Pamela M. Choi, Shannon Farmakis, Thomas J. Desmarais, Martin S. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Adult guidelines for the management of traumatic hemothorax are well established; however, there have been no similar studies conducted in the pediatric population. The purpose of our study was to assess the management and outcomes of children with traumatic hemothorax. Materials and Methods: Following Institutional Review Board approval, we conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of all trauma patients diagnosed with a hemothorax at a Level-1 pediatric trauma center from 2007 to 2012. Results: Forty-six children with hemothorax were identified, 23 from blunt mechanism and 23 from penetrating mechanism. The majority of children injured by penetrating mechanisms were treated with tube thoracostomy while the majority of blunt injury patients were observed (91.3% vs. 30.4% tube thoracostomy, penetrating vs. blunt, P = 0.00002). Among patients suffering from blunt mechanism, children who were managed with chest tubes had a greater volume of hemothorax than those who were observed. All children who were observed underwent serial chest radiographs demonstrating no progression and required no delayed procedures. Children with a hemothorax identified only by computed tomography, after negative plain radiograph, did not require intervention. No child developed a delayed empyema or fibrothorax. Conclusion: The data suggest that a small-volume hemothorax resulting from blunt mechanism may be safely observed without mandatory tube thoracostomy and with overall low complication rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-87
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Emergencies, Trauma and Shock
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Hemothorax
  • thoracic trauma
  • tube thoracostomy


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