Background: The demographics of traumatic amputations in children
are not well known. The purpose of this review was to identify those
demographics for use as a possible guide for prevention strategies.
Methods: The study was a retrospective review of the data on
children with traumatic amputation who had received care at one center in the
upper midwestern United States from 1980 to 2000. The child's gender and age
at the time of the amputation, the date and etiology of the amputation, and
the amputation level were tabulated. Statistical analyses of seasonal
variations were performed.
Results: There were 256 amputations in 235 children. The mean age
(and standard deviation) at the time of the amputation was 7.9 ± 5.0
years. The amputation involved one extremity in 217 children, two extremities
in sixteen, and three and four extremities in one child each. Of the 256
amputations, 165 involved the lower extremity. The traumatic amputation was
caused by a lawnmower in sixty-nine children, farm machinery in fifty-seven, a
motor-vehicle accident in thirty-eight, a train in twenty, and miscellaneous
mechanisms in fifty-one. The mean age at the time of the injury varied
according to the mechanism of injury and ranged from 1.9 years for burns to
11.5 years for boating injuries. Fifty-four (78%) of the sixty-nine children
with a lawnmower amputation were five years of age or less. There were
significant seasonal variations: the mean date of the lawnmower injuries was
June 10, the mean date of the farming injuries was September 2, and the mean
date of the motor-vehicle-related injuries was July 16.
Conclusions: There are common patterns of traumatic amputations in
children based on the mechanism of injury, the season, and the age of the
child. The ideal time for an educational campaign for the prevention of
lawnmower injuries appears to be March and April and should be directed toward
parents. The best times for such a campaign for the prevention of
farming-related accidents appear to be both the spring and the early fall, and
the campaign should be directed toward both parents and older children.
Level of Evidence: Prognostic study, Level II-1
(retrospective study). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description
of levels of evidence.