Neurosurgical sequelae of domestic dog attacks in children

Ramesh Kumar, Frederic W.B. Deleyiannis, Corbett Wilkinson, Brent R. O'Neill

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14 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The authors' goals in this study were to describe a series of dog attacks on children that required neurosurgical consultation and to better understand the pattern of injuries inflicted, the circumstances that place children at risk for attack, and the dog breeds involved. In addition, the authors review the surgical and medical management of these patients. METHODS: The authors performed a retrospective review of all children requiring neurosurgical consultation for dog bite at a regional Level 1 pediatric trauma center over a 15-year period. RESULTS: A total of 124 children with dog bites to the head, face, and neck were evaluated in the emergency department. Of these, 17 children (13.7%) incurred injuries requiring neurosurgical consultation. Fifty-three percent of victims were female. The mean age at the time of attack was 30 months. Twelve (71%) of the attacks were perpetrated by the family pet, and 13 (76%) occurred at the patient's home. Breeds involved in the attacks included German Shepherd, Pit Bull, American Bulldog, large mixed breed, Labrador Retriever, and Akita, with German Shepherds and Akitas being the most frequently involved. Neurosurgical injuries included nondepressed skull fracture in 5, depressed skull fracture in 10, intracranial hemorrhage in 5, cerebral contusions in 4, dural laceration in 4, pneumocephalus in 5, clinically evident CSF leak in 3, spinal fracture with complete spinal cord injury in 1, stroke in 2, vascular injury in 2, and cranial nerve injury (hypoglossal and facial nerve) in 1. Prophylactic antibiotics were administered in 16 patients (94%). Only 1 patient had a confirmed infection involving the site of injury. Neurosurgical intervention was required in 10 patients (59%) and ranged in severity from debridement and closure of a complex scalp wound to decompressive craniectomy. Neurological deficits, all of which were considered catastrophic, developed in 3 patients (18%). CONCLUSIONS: Dog attacks on children requiring neurosurgical consultation commonly involve the family pet, which is usually a large-breed dog with no history of prior aggression. Neurosurgical injuries often involve the cranial vault, with depressed skull fractures being the most common injury pattern. Most patients do not suffer a neurological deficit, although catastrophic neurological injury may occur. Prophylactic antibiotics are commonly used and surgical intervention is required in the majority of cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology

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