The impact of morbid obesity on solid organ injury in children using the ATOMAC protocol at a pediatric level I trauma center

Nathan Vaughan, Jeff Tweed, Cynthia Greenwell, David M. Notrica, Crystal S. Langlais, Shawn D St Peter, Charles M. Leys, Daniel J. Ostlie, R. Todd Maxson, Todd Ponsky, David W. Tuggle, James W. Eubanks, Amina Bhatia, Cynthia Greenwell, Nilda M. Garcia, Karla A. Lawson, Prasenjeet Motghare, Robert W. Letton, Adam C. Alder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Introduction Obesity is an epidemic in the pediatric population. Childhood obesity in trauma has been associated with increased incidence of long-bone fractures, longer ICU stays, and decreased closed head injuries. We investigated for differences in the likelihood of failure of non-operative management (NOM), and injury grade using a subset of a multi-institutional, prospective database of pediatric patients with solid organ injury (SOI). Methods We prospectively collected data on all pediatric patients (< 18 years) admitted for liver or splenic injury from September 2013 to January 2016. SOI was managed based upon the ATOMAC protocol. Obesity status was derived using CDC definitions; patients were categorized as non-obese (BMI < 95th percentile) or obese (BMI ≥ 95th percentile). The ISS, injury grade, and NOM failure rate were calculated among other data points. Results Of 1012 patients enrolled, 117 were identified as having data regarding BMI. Eighty-four percent of patients were non-obese; 16% were obese. The groups did not differ by age, sex, mechanism of injury, or associated injuries. There was no significant difference in the rate of failure of non-operative management (8.2% versus 5.3%). Obesity was associated with higher likelihood of severe (grade 4 or 5) hepatic injury (36.8% versus 15.3%, P = 0.048) but not a significant difference in likelihood of severe (grade 4 or 5) splenic injury (15.3% versus 10.5%, P = 0.736). Obese patients had a higher mean ISS (22.5 versus 16.1, P = 0.021) and mean abdominal AIS (3.5 versus 2.9, P = 0.024). Conclusion Obesity is a risk factor for more severe abdominal injury, specifically liver injury, but without an associated increase in failure of NOM. This may be explained by the presence of hepatic steatosis making the liver more vulnerable to injury. A protocol based upon physiologic parameters was associated with a low rate of failure regardless of the pediatric obesity status. Level of evidence Level II prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-348
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Abdominal
  • Blunt
  • Guideline
  • Obesity
  • Pediatric
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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