Firearm injuries are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality for children in the United States. The purpose of this study is to investigate the 22-year experience of pediatric firearm-related musculoskeletal injuries at a major pediatric level 1 hospital and to analyze the risk of adverse outcomes in children under 10 years of age.
An institutional review board-approved, retrospective cohort analysis was conducted on pediatric firearm-related musculoskeletal injuries at our institution from 1995 to 2017. A total of 189 children aged 0 to 18 years were identified using International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision/10th Revision codes, focusing on musculoskeletal injuries by firearms. Exclusion criteria were primary treatment at an outside hospital, isolated nonmusculoskeletal injuries (eg, traumatic brain injury), and death before orthopaedic intervention. Two cohorts were included: age below 10 years and age 10 years and above. Primary outcome measure was a serious adverse outcome (death, growth disturbance, amputation, or impairment). Standard statistical analysis was used for demographic data, along with linear mixed models and multivariable logistic regression for adverse outcome.
Of the 189 children, 46 (24.3%) were below 10 years of age and 143 (75.7%) were 10 years and above. Fifty-two (27.5%) of the total group had an adverse outcome, with 19 (41.3%) aged below 10 years and 33 (23.1%) aged 10 years and above (P=0.016). Adverse outcomes were 3 deaths, 17 growth disturbances, 7 amputations, and 44 impairments. For those below 10 years of age, rural location (P=0.024), need for surgical treatment (P=0.041), femur injury (P=0.032), peripheral nerve injury (P=0.006), and number of surgeries (P=0.022) were associated with an adverse outcome.
Over one fourth of survivors of musculoskeletal firearm injuries had an adverse outcome. Children 10 years and above represent the majority of firearm injuries in our population; however, when injured, those below 10 years are more likely to have an adverse outcome.
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