Pleural effusion following blunt splenic injury in the pediatric trauma population

Afif N. Kulaylat, Brett W. Engbrecht, Carolina Pinzon-Guzman, Vance L. Albaugh, Susan E. Rzucidlo, Jane R. Schubart, Robert E. Cilley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background Pleural effusion is a potential complication following blunt splenic injury. The incidence, risk factors, and clinical management are not well described in children. Methods Ten-year retrospective review (January 2000-December 2010) of an institutional pediatric trauma registry identified 318 children with blunt splenic injury. Results Of 274 evaluable nonoperatively managed pediatric blunt splenic injures, 12 patients (4.4%) developed left-sided pleural effusions. Seven (58%) of 12 patients required left-sided tube thoracostomy for worsening pleural effusion and respiratory insufficiency. Median time from injury to diagnosis of pleural effusion was 1.5 days. Median time from diagnosis to tube thoracostomy was 2 days. Median length of stay was 4 days for those without and 7.5 days for those with pleural effusions (p < 0.001) and 6 and 8 days for those pleural effusions managed medically or with tube thoracostomy (p = 0.006), respectively. In multivariate analysis, high-grade splenic injury (IV-V) (OR 16.5, p = 0.001) was associated with higher odds of developing a pleural effusion compared to low-grade splenic injury (I-III). Conclusions Pleural effusion following pediatric blunt splenic injury has an incidence of 4.4% and is associated with high-grade splenic injuries and longer lengths of stay. While some symptomatic patients may be successfully managed medically, many require tube thoracostomy for progressive respiratory symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1378-1381
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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