Surgical Treatment of Pediatric Dog-bite Wounds: A 5-year Retrospective Review
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Surgical Treatment of Pediatric Dog-bite Wounds: A 5-year Retrospective Review


Introduction: Dog bites are a significant health concern in the pediatric population. Few studies published to date have stratified the injuries caused by dog bites based on surgical severity to elucidate the contributing risk factors.  

Methods: We used an electronic hospital database to identify all patients ≤17 years of age treated for dog bites from 2013–2018. Data related to patient demographics, injury type, intervention, dog breed, and payer source were collected. We extracted socioeconomic data from the American Community Survey. Data related to dog breed was obtained from public records on dog licenses. We calculated descriptive statistics as well as relative risk of dog bite by breed.

Results: Of 1,252 injuries identified in 967 pediatric patients, 17.1% required consultation with a surgical specialist for repair. Bites affecting the head/neck region were most common (61.7%) and most likely to require operating room intervention (P = 0.002). The relative risk of a patient being bitten in a low-income area was 2.24, compared with 0.46 in a high-income area. Among cases where the breed of dog responsible for the bite was known, the dog breed most commonly associated with severe bites was the pit bull (relative risk vs German shepherd 8.53, relative risk vs unknown, 3.28). 

Conclusion: The majority of injuries did not require repair and were sufficiently handled by an emergency physician. Repair by a surgical specialist was required <20% of the time, usually for bites affecting the head/neck region. Disparities in the frequency and characteristics of dog bites across socioeconomic levels and dog breeds suggest that public education efforts may decrease the incidence of pediatric dog bites.

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