Delayed onset of intestinal obstruction in children after unrecognized seat belt injury

Jerry M. Hardacre, Karen W. West, Frederick R. Rescorla, Dennis W. Vane, Jay L. Grosfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The increased use of child safety seats and seat belt restraints has significantly reduced the incidence of severe head injuries associated with motor vehicular accidents. However, an increase in the number of both acutely recognized intestinal perforations and delayed obstructions due to ischemic strictures has been noted. This report describes two children with delayed onset of intestinal obstruction related to the "seat belt syndrome" who presented with bilious emesis 3 to 6 weeks following an unrecognized lap belt injury. At laparotomy, a volvulus around an omental band adherent to a resolving traumatic mesenteric hematoma was the basis of the obstruction in both cases. The volvulus resulted in a stricture in each instance that required resection and end-to-end anastomosis. The diagnosis of posttraumatic intestinal obstruction should be suspected in children who develop nausea and bilious emesis following motor vehicular accidents in which they were wearing lap belts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-969
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1990


  • blunt abdominal trauma
  • intestinal obstruction
  • Seat belt syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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