Role of the surgeon in non-accidental trauma

Bindi Naik-Mathuria, Adesola Akinkuotu, David Wesson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Non-accidental trauma (NAT) represents a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the pediatric population. The management of these patients often involves many care providers including the surgeon. Victims of NAT often present with multiple injuries and as such should be treated as trauma patients with complete trauma evaluation including primary, secondary and tertiary surveys. Common injury patterns in NAT include extremity fractures, closed head injury and intra-abdominal injury. Brain imaging is of importance to rule out acute or sub-acute intracranial hemorrhage. Children under the age of 5 years with acute intracranial pathology should also be evaluated by an ophthalmologist to rule out retinal hemorrhages, which are considered pathognomonic for child abuse from violent shaking. In instances when abdominal injury is suspected, prompt evaluation by a surgeon is recommended along with CT imaging. Finding of extremity fractures should prompt evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon. At our institution, all patients with suspected NAT are admitted to the pediatric surgery service for complete evaluation and management. We encourage other pediatric trauma centers to employ a similar approach so that these complicated patients are managed safely and effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-610
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Surgery International
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 12 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Child abuse
  • NAT
  • Non-accidental trauma
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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