Splenic trauma as an adverse effect of torso-protecting side airbags: biomechanical and case evidence.

Jason J. Hallman, Karen J. Brasel, Narayan Yoganandan, Frank A. Pintar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Injury mechanisms from frontal airbags, first identified in anecdotal reports, are now well documented for pediatric, small female, and out-of-position occupants. In contrast, torso side airbags have not yet been consistently associated with specific injury risks in field assessments. To determine possible torso side airbag-related injuries, the present study identified crashes involving side airbags from reports within the CIREN, NASS, and SCI databases. Injury patterns were compared to patterns from lateral crashes in absence of side airbag. Splenic trauma (AIS 3+) was found present in five cases of torso side airbag deployment at lower impact severity (as measured by velocity change and compartment intrusion) than cases of splenic trauma without side airbag. Five additional cases were found to contain similar injury patterns but occurred with greater crash severity. To supplement case analyses, full scale sled tests were conducted with a THOR-NT dummy and cadaveric specimen. Four THOR tests with door- and seat-mounted torso side airbags confirmed that out-of-position (early inflation stage) airbag contact elevated thoracic injury metrics compared to optimal (fully inflated) contact. Out-of-position seat-mounted airbag deployment also produced AIS 3 splenic trauma in the cadaveric specimen. Due to potentially sudden or delayed onset of intraperitoneal hemorrhage and hypovolemic shock following splenic trauma, further biomechanical investigation of this anecdotal evidence is essential to identify injury mechanisms, prevention techniques, and methods for early diagnosis.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Splenic trauma as an adverse effect of torso-protecting side airbags: biomechanical and case evidence.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this