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Handlebar injuries in children: should we raise the bar of suspicion?

Handlebar injuries in children: should we raise the bar of suspicion?

American Surgeon 73(8): 807-810

Injury prevention strategies for child bicyclists have focused on helmet use to prevent head trauma. Handlebars are another source of injury. A retrospective review from 2005 identified 385 admissions to a Level 1 pediatric trauma center of which 23 (5.9%) were pedal cyclists. Four cases (<1.0%) of handlebar injuries were identified. Three children (two bicyclists, one riding a scooter) sustained handlebar impact to the neck. All children with neck injuries had subcutaneous emphysema. Two of the children had pneumomediastinum, which after work-up was managed nonoperatively. One child had a tracheal injury requiring operative intervention. Another child was struck in the upper abdomen resulting in a traumatic abdominal wall hernia requiring emergent exploration and hernia repair. Discordance exists between the apparently minor circumstances of handlebar trauma and the severity of injury sustained by bicyclists. Recognizing the mechanism of handlebar-related injuries and maintaining a high index of suspicion for visceral injuries aids in the diagnosis. The incidence of these injuries is underestimated due to insufficient documentation of the circumstances of injury events and a lack of applicable E-codes specific for handlebar injury.

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Accession: 053476645

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PMID: 17879690

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