The “seat belt sign
” (SBS) has been reported to be highly associated with intra-abdominal injury. This study defines its predictive value in identifying injuries in a large pediatric trauma
At a level I pediatric trauma
center, we performed a retrospective review of trauma flow sheets for all motor vehicle crash
victims (ages, 0–20) requiring trauma team activation during 2005 and 2006. All patients with an abdominal SBS recorded were included in the analysis.
Of 331 patients (mean age, 9.96 years), an SBS was present in 54 (16%) of these children. Abdominal injury was identified by computed tomography scan or intraoperatively in 12 (22%) of these children. Three (6%) children with SBS required operative intervention. Two had a bowel injuries and one had a negative laparoscopy. SBS and abdominal tenderness were reported in 30 (56%) patients; 8 (15%) of whom sustained abdominal injury. Of the 277 (84%) children without SBS, 36 (13%) had abdominal injuries. Four (11%) of these had a positive laparotomy
with three having a bowel injuries. The relative risk of an abdominal injury given an SBS was 1.7 (CI 0.96–2.69; p
= 0.078). Four (1.4%) children without SBS died of head injuries compared with zero with SBS. The SBS had a sensitivity of 25% and a specificity of 85%.
The SBS was not significantly associated with abdominal injury in our population. Patients without SBS had a higher Injury Severity Score and accounted for all of the deaths. SBS may not be as predictive of abdominal injury as previously reported.