Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is a well-recognized phenomenon in adult trauma populations. The “initial hit” of the traumatic event is often coupled with a systemic immune response characterized by changes in vital signs and laboratory indicators. A “second hit” from surgery during this time frame often results in acute lung injury, along with deterioration of the patient’s clinical condition. We hypothesized that children and adolescents would experience SIRS physiology, but would not experience adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or “second hit” related death to the extent seen in the adult populations.
We queried the trauma database of our level 1 pediatric trauma center from January 2005 to December 2015 for patients with injury severity scores of >16. We used the electronic medical record to track SIRS criteria in patients days 1 to 4 posttrauma. Trends were examined in patients with an orthopaedic injury (OI) and with no orthopaedic injury. Patients were further subcategorized and analyzed by age group based on the convention for definition of pediatric SIRS. Patients in the orthopaedic cohort were further examined for pulmonary complications and death. Logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for SIRS physiology in the first 4 days of hospitalization.
81.4% (OI) and 69.1% no orthopaedic injury reached the threshold for SIRS within their first 4 days of hospitalization. Nine patients died in the hospital. Only 3 OI patients developed the criteria for ARDS, and only 3 patients with orthopaedic injuries died, 2 died within 24 hours of presentation and 1 within 48 hours, all had severe brain trauma. Increasing age groups showed increasing proportion of patients with SIRS. Increasing injury severity score and increasing age were independent predictors of SIRS during days 1 to 4.
SIRS seems to be as common in children as the reported rates for adults, and the proportion of SIRS in children increases with increasing age and injury severity. The high mortality rate and rate of ARDS observed in adults was not observed in our cohort. The presence or absence of major orthopaedic injuries was not a significant predictor. The SIRS response in polytraumatized children is poorly understood. The clinical phenomenon of acute lung injury/ARDS is observed less often in children, but the exact mechanism by which this occurs is unknown.
Level of Evidence:
Level III—case control.