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Lack of utility of repeat monitoring of hemoglobin and hematocrit following blunt solid organ injury in children

Acker, Shannon N. MD; Petrun, Branden; Partrick, David A. MD; Roosevelt, Genie E. MD; Bensard, Denis D. MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: December 2015 - Volume 79 - Issue 6 - p 991–994
doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000791
WTA Plenary Papers

BACKGROUND Current management protocols for children with blunt solid organ injury to the liver and spleen call for serial monitoring of the child’s hemoglobin and hematocrit every 6, 12, or 24 hours, depending on the injury grade. We hypothesized that children who require emergent intervention in the form of laparotomy, angioembolization, or packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusion because of bleeding from a solid organ injury will have changes in their vital signs that alert the clinician to the need for intervention, making scheduled laboratory evaluation unnecessary.

METHODS We performed a retrospective review of all children admitted to either of two pediatric trauma centers following blunt trauma with any grade liver or spleen injury from January 2009 to December 2013. Data evaluated include a need for intervention, indication for intervention, and timing of intervention.

RESULTS A total of 245 children were admitted with blunt liver or spleen injury. Six patients (2.5%) underwent emergent exploratory laparotomy for hypotension a median of 4 hours after injury (range, 2–4 hours), four of who required splenectomy. No child required laparotomy for delayed bleeding from a solid organ injury. One child (0.4%) underwent angioembolization for blunt splenic injury. Forty-one children (16.7%) received a PRBC transfusion during hospitalization, 32 of whom did not undergo laparotomy or angioembolization. Children who underwent an intervention had a lower nadir hematocrit (median, 22.9 vs. 32.8; p < 0.0001), longer time from injury to nadir hematocrit (median, 35.5 vs. 16 hours; p < 0.0001), and more total blood draws for hemoglobin and hematocrit monitoring (median, 20 vs. 5; p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION Among children with blunt liver or spleen injury, a need for emergent intervention in the form of laparotomy or PRBC transfusion for hemorrhagic shock occurs within the first 24 hours of injury. Ongoing, scheduled monitoring of serum hemoglobin and hematocrit values may not be necessary.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Retrospective study with no negative criteria, prognostic study, level III.

From the Department of Pediatric Surgery (S.N.A., B.P., D.A.P., D.D.B.), Children’s Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora; and Departments of Emergency Medicine (G.E.R.), and Surgery (D.D.B.), Denver Health Medical Center, Denver, Colorado.

Submitted: January 15, 2015, Revised: March 24, 2015, Accepted: June 3, 2015, Published online: October 1, 2015.

This study was presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Western Trauma Association, March 1–6, 2015, in Telluride, Colorado.

Address for reprints: Shannon Acker, MD, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 12631 E 17th Ave, C302, Aurora, CO 80045; email:

© 2015 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.