What mechanism justifies abdominal evaluation in motor vehicle crashes?

Karen J. Brasel, Ram Nirula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Significant resources are spent on assessment of the abdomen in motor vehicle crash (MVC) occupants based solely upon crash mechanism. Most have no clinically significant injuries. We sought to define crash and occupant characteristics that would be associated with a low probability of clinically significant abdominal injury. Methods: Drivers in MVCs were analyzed from the National Automotive Sampling System from 1993 to 2001. The probability of abdominal injury with an Abbreviated Injury Score > 1 was measured over a range of crash velocities controlling for other covariates using multivariate logistic regression. A receiver operating curve was used to assess the model. Results: Age, restraint use, net change in velocity, ejection, rollover, vehicle type, other passenger mortality, and other injuries were included in the model yielding an area under the receiver operating curve of 0.948. The probability of abdominal injury increased significantly at velocities >20 km/h and reached 5.0% at approximately 30 km/h. Age >75 years old or the presence of head, leg, or chest injuries significantly increased the risk of abdominal injury, even at low velocities. Absence of injury to the head, spine, legs, or chest indicated that the abdomen was unlikely to be injured regardless of crash velocity. Conclusion: Absence of injury to the head, chest, spine, and legs indicates an extremely low probability of abdominal injury, even at high velocities. Abdominal evaluation in this group of patients for reason of mechanism alone is therefore unnecessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1061
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal injury
  • Elderly
  • Mechanism
  • Motor vehicle crash
  • Velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'What mechanism justifies abdominal evaluation in motor vehicle crashes?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this