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Pulmonary contusion in children

Alison Chantal Caviness, MD, MPH, PhD
Section Editor
Richard G Bachur, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


This topic will discuss the epidemiology, clinical features, and management of pulmonary contusion in children. The approach to thoracic trauma in children and other thoracic injuries are presented elsewhere. (See "Initial evaluation and stabilization of children with thoracic trauma" and "Chest wall injuries in children" and "Overview of intrathoracic injuries in children".)


Pulmonary contusion is defined as pulmonary parenchymal damage with edema and hemorrhage, in the absence of an associated pulmonary laceration.


Thoracic injury in children is uncommon, occurring in 4 to 8 percent of injured children identified through trauma registries or as patients at trauma centers [1-3]. Of those with thoracic injury, most have a pulmonary contusion.

The vast majority of pulmonary contusions are the result of blunt trauma, usually involving a motor vehicle. In one retrospective series, 56 percent of injuries occurred in a motor vehicle crash, while 39 percent were the result of auto-pedestrian collisions [4].

Associated thoracic injuries (ie, pleural effusion, pneumothorax, hemothorax, and fractures of the bony thorax) occur in the majority of patients [4,5]. Flail chest and scapular fractures are uncommon in children, but they are almost always associated with pulmonary contusion. (See "Chest wall injuries in children".)


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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Tue Oct 06 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2015.
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