Paediatric trauma on the last frontier: An 11-year review of injury mechanisms, high-risk injury patterns and outcomes in alaskan children

Christopher W. Snyder, Oliver J. Muensterer, Frank Sacco, Shawn D. Safford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background. Paediatric trauma system development in Alaska is complicated by a vast geographic coverage area, wide regional variations in environment and culture, and a lack of available published data. Objective. To provide a detailed description of paediatric trauma mechanisms, high-risk injury patterns and outcomes in Alaska. Design. This retrospective study included all children aged 17 years or younger in the State of Alaska Trauma Registry database admitted with traumatic injury between 2001 and 2011. Each injury record was reviewed individually and assigned a mechanism based on Centers for Disease Control E-codes. Geographic definitions were based on existing Emergency Medical Services regions. Mechanisms were compared by geographic region, patient demographics, injury characteristics and outcome. Subgroup analysis of fatal injuries was performed to identify causes of death. Results. Of 5,547 patients meeting inclusion criteria, the most common mechanisms of injury were falls (39%), motor vehicle collisions (10%) and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents (9%). The overall case fatality rate was 2%. Mechanisms with the greatest risk of death were gunshot wounds (21%), pedestrians struck by motorized vehicles (9%) and motor vehicle collisions (5%). These 3 mechanisms accounted for 15% of injuries but 60% of deaths in the overall cohort. Injury patterns involving combined central nervous system (CNS) and torso injuries were unusual but especially lethal, occurring in 3% of patients but carrying a case fatality rate of 18%. Although the distribution of mechanisms was generally similar for each geographic region, ATV and snowmobile injuries were significantly more common in remote areas (23% remote vs. 7% non-remote, p < 0.0001). Conclusions. Mechanisms of paediatric trauma in Alaska have widely varying impacts on outcome and show some variation by region. Highest-risk mechanisms include gunshot wounds and motorized vehicle-related accidents. Prevention efforts should give special attention to CNS injury prevention, ATV and snowmobile safety in remote areas, and optimization of management of multisystem trauma. Further studies should investigate predictors of outcome in greater detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number25066
JournalInternational journal of circumpolar health
StatePublished - Aug 6 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alaska
  • Epidemiology
  • Injury
  • Resource utilization
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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