Hypothesis: This study was undertaken to identify mechanisms of injury, diagnostic modalities, surgical management, and outcome in children with traumatic aortic disruptions. Design: Retrospective study. Setting: University-affiliated private hospital. Patients: All patients younger than 17 years listed in the trauma registry. Intervention: Operative repair of thoracic aortic injuries. Main Outcome Measures: There were 8 boys and 3 girls ranging in age from 12 to 17 years (mean, 14.8 years). Seven children were motor vehicle passengers; 3 were pedestrians struck by vehicles; and 1 was thrown from a bull. Aortic injuries were suspected on the basis of the mechanism of injury and abnormal chest x-ray films (mediastinal widening). Aortic injuries were confirmed in 9 patients by arch aortography and in 2 patients by computed tomography. The injuries involved the isthmus of the aorta in 9 patients (complete transections) and the aortic arch in 2 patients (avulsions of the great vessels). Isthmus injuries were repaired by means of left heart bypass with direct cannulation of the distal thoracic aorta in 8 patients and femoral venous to femoral arterial bypass in 1 patient. Arch injuries were repaired during hypothermic circulatory arrest. The injured aortic segments were replaced with interposition grafts. There were no direct complications of anticoagulation. Ten patients (91%) survived. The only death was caused by a severe closed head injury. There were no instances of paraplegia related to aortic repairs. Conclusion: Good outcomes resulted from early diagnosis based on mechanism of injury, prompt aortography, and computed tomography and operative management that included distal aortic perfusion with left heart bypass.
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