Failure-to-rescue and mortality after emergent pediatric trauma laparotomy: How are the children doing? “Pediatric Emergent Trauma Laparotomy”

Michael Hunter Culbert, Adam Nelson, Omar Obaid, Lourdes Castanon, Hamidreza Hosseinpour, Tanya Anand, Khaled El-Qawaqzeh, Collin Stewart, Raul Reina, Bellal Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Emergent trauma laparotomy is associated with mortality rates of up to 40%. There is a paucity of data on the outcomes of emergent trauma laparotomies performed in the pediatric population. The aim of our study was to describe the outcomes, including mortality and FTR, among pediatric trauma patients undergoing emergent laparotomy and identify factors associated with failure-to-rescue (FTR). Methods: We performed a one-year (2017) retrospective cohort analysis of the American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program dataset. All pediatric trauma patients (age <18 years) who underwent emergent laparotomy (laparotomy performed within 2 h of admission) were included. Outcome measures were major in-hospital complications, overall mortality, and failure-to-rescue (death after in-hospital major complication). Multivariate regression analysis was performed to identify factors independently associated with failure-to-rescue. Results: Among 120,553 pediatric trauma patients, 462 underwent emergent laparotomy. Mean age was 14±4 years, 76% of patients were male, 49% were White, and 50% had a penetrating mechanism of injury. Median ISS was 25 [13–36], Abdomen AIS was 3 [2–4], Chest AIS was 2 [1–3], and Head AIS was 2 [0–5]. The median time in ED was 33 [18–69] minutes, and median time to surgery was 49 [33–77] minutes. The most common operative procedures performed were splenectomy (26%), hepatorrhaphy (17%), enterectomy (14%), gastrorrhaphy (14%), and diaphragmatic repair (14%). Only 22% of patients were treated at an ACS Pediatric Level I trauma center. The most common major in-hospital complications were cardiac (9%), followed by infectious (7%) and respiratory (5%). Overall mortality was 21%, and mortality among those presenting with hypotension was 31%. Among those who developed in-hospital major complications, the failure-to-rescue rate was 31%. On multivariate analysis, age younger than 8 years, concomitant severe head injury, and receiving packed red blood cell transfusion within the first 24 h were independently associated with failure-to-rescue. Conclusions: Our results show that emergent trauma laparotomies performed in the pediatric population are associated with high morbidity, mortality, and failure-to-rescue rates. Quality improvement programs may use our findings to improve patient outcomes, by increasing focus on avoiding hospital complications, and further refinement of resuscitation protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-544
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Emergent laparotomy
  • Failure-to-rescue
  • Mortality
  • Pediatrics
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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