Imaging for Pediatric Blunt Abdominal Trauma With Different Prediction Rules: Is the Outcome the Same?

Ali Ozcan
Terrie Ahn
Begum Akay, Beaumont Health
Margaret Menoch


BACKGROUND: Computerized tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis is the standard imaging modality to diagnose intra-abdominal injury (IAI). Clinicians must weigh the risk-benefit of CT compared with the degree of clinical suspicion for an IAI. Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN), Streck, and blunt abdominal trauma in children (BATiC) prediction rules have been published to help guide evaluation of these patients. Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network uses history and physical examination findings, whereas Streck and BATiC use examination plus laboratory and imaging findings. At the time of the study, there was not a protocol that was more routinely sited. Our goal was to compare these different prediction rules.

METHODS: This was a retrospective electronic chart review of all children younger than 18 years presenting for either level 1 or 2 trauma activations at our pediatric emergency department (ED) between June 1, 2015, to June 30, 2017. Charts were manually reviewed for a mechanism concerning for abdominal trauma, and demographic data, history and physical examination findings, laboratory and imaging results per prediction rules, and revisits in 7 days were collected.The prediction rules were applied to all charts that had all data necessary. For study purposes, a score of zero for PECARN and Streck, and score of ≤5 for modified BATiC (mBATiC) were defined as "low risk." Patients with no CT, negative CT, and no new injury found on revisit were classified as "no IAI identified," and patients with positive CT or revisit with injury found as "IAI identified." The results were compared via Fisher exact test.

RESULTS: A total of 249 patients met the inclusion criteria with a median age of 12 years. Of the low-risk patients, 119 (98.7%) of 121 in PECARN group, 21 (100%) of 21 in Streck, and 48 (85.7%) of 56 in mBATiC group had no IAI identified. None of the low-risk patients required any intra-abdominal intervention. No missed IAI was identified during revisit review. Negative predictive values of all 3 rules were significant for PECARN, Streck, and mBATiC (98.35%, 100%, and 85.71%, respectively). Overall, 27 patients had positive CT results for IAI.

CONCLUSIONS: The PECARN and Streck rules have high negative predictive values to predict low-risk patients who do not require CT. When laboratory studies are not obtained, PECARN is an effective means of excluding IAI for low-risk patients. When laboratory tests were obtained, the Streck rule performed well. Overall, the results are similar to the past individual studies done on each individual rule. History and physical examination findings are of high importance in pediatric trauma. This study supports limited imaging when no abnormal findings are present in children with blunt torso trauma. This is the only study found in the literature that has compared 3 different prediction rules.