UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Seat Belt Sign in Pediatrics

Keywords: Blunt abdominal trauma, seat belt sign, pediatrics (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/16/2015 by Jennifer Guyther, MD
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Our suspicion of significant abdominal injury increases when there is bruising across the abdomen in adults after a motor vehicle collision, but what about in children? A PECRAN analysis may have provided us with the answer.

Of 3740 pediatric patients after motor vehicle collision, 16% had a seat belt sign. Seat belt sign was defined as a continuous area of erythema, ecchymosis or abrasion across the abdomen due to the seat belt. 1864 children had CT scans of the abdomen. Intra-abdominal injuries (IAI) were more common in those children with seat belt sign than those without (19% versus 12%). Those with seat belt sign had a greater risk of hallow viscous or mesenteric injuries. There was no increased risk of solid organ injury. 33% of patients with seat belt sign did not have complaints of abdominal pain or tenderness on initial exam (with a GCS of 14 or 15); 2% of these patients underwent operative intervention for their injuries.


Borgialli et al. Association Between the Seat Belt Sign and Intra-abdominal Injuries in Children With Blunt Torso Trauma in Motor Vehicle Collisions. Academic Emergency Medicine, 2014; 21: 1240 1248.