Bicycle handlebar injuries – a systematic review of pediatric chest and abdominal injuries

Roxanne Cheung, Meghna Shukla, Katherine G. Akers, Ahmad Farooqi, Usha Sethuraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The severity of handlebar injuries can be overlooked due to subtle signs and wide range of associated internal injuries. Our objective was to describe thoracoabdominal injuries due to bicycle handlebars and their outcomes in children. Methods: Articles that reported thoracoabdominal injuries were identified from database conception to March 3, 2019 using PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, CINHAHL Complete, Web of Science and Scopus. A systematic review of studies of thoracoabdominal handlebar injuries in children ≤21 years on human-powered bicycles in English was performed. Information on demographics, clinical features, injuries, interventions and outcomes was noted. Results: A total of 138 articles were identified from 1952 to 2019. There were 1072 children (males, 85.1%) and 1255 thoracoabdominal injuries. Mean age was 9.7 ± 3.3 years old. Common clinical features included abdominal pain and guarding, vomiting, fever and a handlebar imprint. The liver was the most frequently injured organ. Surgery was performed in 338 children with a mean age of 10.0 ± 3.3 years. Twenty-seven children (2.5%) were discharged and returned due to worsening symptoms, of whom 23 (85.2%) required surgery. Thirty-one children (2.9%) transferred to a higher level of care due to injury severity. Two deaths were reported. Conclusion: Bicycle handlebars can cause significant thoracoabdominal injuries. Presence of abdominal pain, vomiting, fever or a circular imprint on the chest or abdomen should prompt further workup. Future studies on diagnostic modalities and best practices are needed to lower the chance of missed injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Abdominal injuries
  • Bicycling
  • Pediatrics
  • Thoracic injuries


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