Orthopedic injuries and their treatment in children during earthquakes: A systematic review

Ilaria Morelli, Maria Grazia Sabbadini, Michelangelo Bortolin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Orthopedic injuries commonly affect children during earthquakes, but reports about them are rare. This setting may lead to different standards of care, but guidelines are still missing in this field. A systematic review was performed to: (1) assess type and body distribution of pediatric earthquake-related injuries, treatment performed, length of stay, and complications; and (2) identify starting points to define standards of care. PubMed database was researched for papers (1999-2014 period) in agreement with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement. Inclusion criteria were: English, French, Spanish, or Italian language and data reported about orthopedic lesions in children (≤18 years old). Reviews, letters, commentaries, editorials, and single case reports were excluded. Two independent reviewers selected articles after abstract and full-text reading. Traumatic injuries caused child hospital admissions ranging from 46.9% to 100.0%; 16% to 53% suffered fractures. Lower limbs mostly were involved. Soft-tissue injuries affected 55% of patients. Debridement and external fixation (EF) were the most frequent surgical treatments. Amputation rates varied from 5% to 11%. This study revealed that field hospitals should be prepared to: (1) treat mainly lower extremities fractures in children; and (2) use especially EF techniques. The presence of orthopedic surgeons familiar with pediatric traumatology should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-485
Number of pages8
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 19 2015


  • amputation
  • earthquake
  • external fixation
  • orthopedics
  • pediatric trauma
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency
  • Emergency Medicine


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