OBJECTIVE: As the incidence of violent crime increases in our society, the rate of penetrating head and neck trauma in children also rises. The methods of management of pediatric penetrating neck wounds are addressed. METHODS: All clinical records of children younger than 18 years admitted with penetrating neck injuries between 1990 and 1997 were reviewed. The injuries were classified according to type and location of the neck wound. Demographic data, clinical presentation, diagnostic studies, and management techniques were evaluated. RESULTS: Thirty-five children aged 6 to 18 years old were evaluated for 31 missile wounds and 4 stab wounds. There were 30 boys and 5 girls. Fourteen percent of injuries were in zone 1, 60% in zone II, and 26% in zone III. Of the 33% of children with zone II penetrating neck traumas who underwent selective neck explorations, 86% had significant intraoperative findings. The mortality rates for zones I, II, and III were 60%, 29%, and 56%, respectively. The overall mortality rate was 40%. CONCLUSIONS: Penetrating neck trauma in children may lead to potentially life-threatening injuries. Selective management of penetrating head and neck injuries in children can be a safe and effective policy in an experienced trauma center.
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