Management of Seat Belt–type Blunt Abdominal Aortic Trauma and Associated Injuries in Pediatric Patients

Momodou L. Jammeh, J. Westley Ohman, Nanette R. Reed, Sean J. English, Jeffrey Jim, Patrick J. Geraghty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: “Seat belt–type” pediatric abdominal aortic trauma is uncommon but potentially lethal. During high speed motor vehicle collisions (MVCs), seat or lap belt restraints may concentrate forces in a band-like pattern across the abdomen, resulting in the triad of hollow viscus perforation, spine fracture, and aortoiliac injury. We report 4 cases of pediatric seat belt–type aortic trauma and review management strategies for the aortic disruption and the associated constellation of injuries. Methods: –approved, retrospective review of all pediatric patients requiring surgical intervention for seat belt–type constellation of abdominal aortic/iliac and associated injuries over a 5-year period. Blunt thoracic aortic injuries were excluded. Results: We identified 4 patients, ranging from 2 to 17 years of age, who required surgical correction of seat belt–type aortoiliac trauma and associated injuries: 3 abdominal aortas and 1 left common iliac artery. The majority (3/4 patients) were hemodynamically unstable at emergency room presentation, and all underwent computed tomography angiography of the chest/abdomen/pelvis during initial resuscitation. Injuries of the suprarenal and proximal infrarenal aorta were accompanied by unilateral renal artery avulsion requiring nephrectomy. Presumed or proven spinal instability mandated supine positioning and midline laparotomy, with medial visceral rotation utilized for proximal injuries. Aortoiliac injuries requiring repair were accompanied by significant distal intraluminal prolapse of dissected intima, with varying degrees of obstruction. Conduit selection was dictated by the presence of enteric contamination and the rapid availability of an autologous conduit. The sole neurologic deficit was irreparable at presentation. Conclusions: Seat belt aortoiliac injuries in pediatric patients require prompt multidisciplinary evaluation. Evidence of contained aortoiliac transection, major branch vessel avulsion, and bowel perforation mandates immediate exploration, which generally precedes spinal interventions. Lesser degrees of aortoiliac injuries have been managed with surveillance, but long-term follow-up is needed to fully validate this approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447.e9-447.e16
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
StatePublished - Nov 2020


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