Injuries from falls in the pediatric population: An analysis of 729 cases

Michael Y. Wang, K. Anthony Kim, Pamela M. Griffith, Susan Summers, J. Gordon McComb, Michael L. Levy, G. Hossein Mahour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Background/Purpose: Falls are classified as low or high level for triage purposes. Because triage criteria dictate less urgency for low-level falls, this classification scheme has important implications for pediatric emergency care. Methods: Retrospective analysis was conducted of 729 (393 low-level and 336 high-level) pediatric patients treated for fall-related trauma (1992 through 1998). Falls were classified as low (<15 feet) or high-level (≥15 feet). All falls were reported as accidental or unintentional. Results: The overall mortality rate was 1.6% (2.4% for high-level falls compared with 1.0% for low-level falls). All 4 patients who died of a low-level fall had an abnormal head computed tomography (CT) scan and intracranial hypertension. Half of deaths from high-level falls were attributable to intracranial injuries, and half were caused by severe extracranial injuries. Common extracranial injuries were upper extremity fracture (6.2%), lower extremity fracture (5.6%), pulmonary contusion (1.8%), pneumothorax (1.1%), liver laceration (1.1%), bowel injury (1.0%), and splenic injury (2.1%). Orthopedic and thoracic injuries resulted more commonly from high-level falls, whereas abdominal injuries were as likely to occur after a low-level fall. Conclusions: Intracranial injury accounts for the majority of deaths from falls. Children suffering low-level falls were at similar risk for intracranial and abdominal injuries compared with those who fell from greater heights. Pediatric trauma triage criteria should account for these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1528-1534
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal injury
  • Fall
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Head injury
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Injuries from falls in the pediatric population: An analysis of 729 cases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this