Upper and lower extremity nerve injuries in pediatric missile wounds: a selective approach to management.

Pediatr Surg Int 2011 Jun 21;27(6):635-41. Epub 2010 Sep 21.

Scott and White Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Austin, TX, USA.

Purpose: Nerve injuries from missile and gunshot wounds often produce significant disability, and their management is controversial. The role of the surgeon in cases of missile wounds with neurologic deficits is not well defined. Enhancing the trauma team's ability to recognize treatable nerve injuries will lead to improved outcomes. Further, raising awareness of the time-sensitive nature of these injuries will also improve results in these cases.

Methods: We reviewed a consecutive series of 17 pediatric patients with peripheral nerve injuries caused by missile and gunshot wounds in a tertiary care children's hospital. We examined the indications for surgery, presence of associated injuries, mechanisms of injury, demographic characteristics and clinical outcomes.

Results: Urban victims were significantly more likely to have been intentionally assaulted than rural or suburban victims and they were also less likely to have completed follow-up care. High-energy weapons were more likely to require surgery compared with low-energy weapons. Patients presenting with tendon injuries were more likely to have a high-grade nerve injury requiring surgery.

Conclusions: Patients presenting with tendon lacerations or high-energy mechanisms were significantly more likely to require surgery. Early exploration should be undertaken in cases where transection is likely to have occurred. Early decompression of common entrapment sites distal to repairs or injuries should be performed. Because follow-up is poor in this population, treatment should be prompt and thorough.

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http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s00383-010-2734-y
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00383-010-2734-yDOI Listing
June 2011
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