Seat Belt Use and its Effect on Abdominal Trauma: A National Trauma Databank Study

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The American surgeon


We sought to use the National Trauma Databank to determine the demographics, injury distribution, associated abdominal injuries, and outcomes of those patients who are restrained versus unrestrained. All victims of motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) were identified from the National Trauma Databank and stratified into subpopulations depending on the use of seat belts. A total of 150,161 MVC victims were included in this study, 72,394 (48%) were belted. Young, male passengers were the least likely to be wearing a seat belt. Restrained victims were less likely to have severe injury as measured by Injury Severity Score and Abbreviated Injury Score. Restrained victims were also less likely to suffer solid organ injuries (9.7% vs 12%, P < 0.001), but more likely to have hollow viscous injuries (1.9% vs 1.3%, P < 0.001). The hospital and intensive care unit length of stay were significantly shorter in belted victims with adjusted mean difference: -1.36 (-1.45, -1.27) and -0.96 (-1.02, -0.90), respectively. Seat belt use was associated with a significantly lower crude mortality than unrestrained victims (1.9% vs 3.3%, P < 0.001), and after adjusting for differences in age, gender, position in vehicle, and deployment of air bags, the protective effect remained (adjusted odds ratio for mortality 0.50, 95% confidence interval 0.47, 0.54). In conclusion, MVC victims wearing seat belts have a significant reduction in the severity of injuries in all body areas, lower mortality, a shorter hospital stay, and decreased length of stay in the intensive care unit. The nature of abdominal injuries, however, was significantly different, with a higher incidence of hollow viscous injury in those wearing seat belts.

Medical Subject Headings

Abdominal Injuries; Accidents, Traffic; Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Child; Child, Preschool; Databases, Factual; Female; Humans; Infant; Infant, Newborn; Length of Stay; Male; Middle Aged; Retrospective Studies; Seat Belts; Trauma Severity Indices; United States; Wounds and Injuries; Young Adult

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