Recognition and management of nonpenetrating cardiac trauma in children

B. I. Bromberg, M. V. Mazziotti, C. E. Canter, T. L. Spray, A. W. Strauss, R. P. Foglia

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41 Scopus citations


Objective. To characterize the evaluation and clinical course of children with nonpenetrating injury to the heart. Methods. We reviewed the medical records for children admitted to St. Louis Children's Hospital between the years 1987 to 1992 with traumatic cardiac injury. Patients with penetrating trauma were excluded; eight children, ages 4 to 13 years, were the study subjects. Chest x-ray studies, electrocardiograms, and serum creatine kinase values were obtained on admission. Two-dimensional echocardiography was performed when indicated by unexplained hemodynamic instability or abnormal radiographic findings. Results. All children with nonpenetrating cardiac trauma were involved in a motor vehicle accident. The principal cardiac diagnoses were ventricular septal defect (1), mitral regurgitation (1), pericardial effusion (2), confusion (3), and arrhythmia (1). Multisystem injury was present in each case, but cardiac injury was not suspected at the time of admission in seven of the eight patients. The hemodynamic status of four children was compromised 12 to 48 hours after admission; echocardiography was diagnostic in each instance, but the electrocardiogram and creatine kinase values were nonspecific. Two patients eventually required cardiac surgery. Conclusions. Recognition of blunt cardiac trauma in children may be confounded by associated multisystem injury and the delayed onset of clinical manifestations. Echocardiography is a sensitive diagnostic tool for hemodynamically significant disease, and should be performed promptly when patients have unexplained hypotension or diminished peripheral perfusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-541
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


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