• abdominal trauma;
  • pediatrics;
  • abdominal CT


Objectives:  This review examines the prevalence of intra-abdominal injuries (IAI) and the negative predictive value (NPV) of an abdominal computed tomography (CT) in children who present with blunt abdominal trauma.

Methods:  MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library databases were searched. Studies were selected if they enrolled children with blunt abdominal trauma from the emergency department (ED) with significant mechanism of injury requiring an abdominal CT. The primary outcome measure was the rate of IAI in patients with negative initial abdominal CT. The secondary outcome measure was the number of laparotomies, angiographic embolizations, or repeat abdominal CTs in those with negative initial abdominal CTs.

Results:  Three studies met the inclusion criteria, comprising a total of 2,596 patients. The overall rate of IAI after a negative abdominal CT was 0.19% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.08% to 0.44%). The overall NPV of abdominal CT was 99.8% (95% CI = 99.6% to 99.9%). There were five patients (0.19%, 95% CI = 0.08% to 0.45%) who required additional intervention despite their initial negative CTs: one therapeutic laparotomy for bowel rupture, one diagnostic laparotomy for mesenteric hematoma and serosal tear, and three repeat abdominal CTs (one splenic and two renal injuries). None of the patients in the latter group required surgery or blood transfusion.

Conclusions:  The rate of IAI after blunt abdominal trauma with negative CT in children is low. Abdominal CT has a high NPV. The review shows that it might be safe to discharge a stable child home after a negative abdominal CT.

ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2010; 17:469–475 © 2010 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine