Studies in the adult population are conflicting regarding whether obesity is protective in penetrating trauma. In the pediatric population, data on obesity and penetrating trauma are limited. We sought to determine if there is a different rate of operation or of survival in pediatric and adolescent patients with obesity.
We queried the National Trauma Data Bank research data set from 2013 to 2016 for all patients aged 2-18 who sustained traumatic penetrating injuries to the thorax and abdomen. The cohort was divided into body mass index percentiles for gender and age using Center for Disease Control definitions. Outcomes included overall survival, whether or not an operative procedure was performed, and hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay.
We analyzed 9611 patients with penetrating trauma, of which 4285 had an operative intervention. When adjusted for other variables (age, gender, race, ICU length of stay, hospital length of stay, and Injury Severity Score), children of every body mass index percentile had similar survival. Healthy weight patients were more likely to get an operation than patients in the obese category. Length of hospital stay was similar between groups, but the ICU length of stay was longer in the overweight and obese groups compared with healthy weight and underweight groups.
Children and adolescents with obesity are less likely to undergo operation after penetrating thoracoabdominal trauma. Further study is needed to determine the reason for this difference.

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