Anaesthetic management of acute blunt thoracic trauma
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Sunnybrook Health Science Centre is an adult regional trauma unit serving metropolitan Toronto and environs. We undertook a two-year retrospective review of patients admitted to our institution with blunt thoracic trauma. Three hundred and thirty-three patients with blunt trauma and an injury severity score (ISS) greater than 17 required emergency surgery. Of these, 208 had blunt thoracic injuries while 125 did not have chest injuries. Both groups were similar with respect to age but patients with thoracic trauma had a greater ISS. (P less than 0.05) and greater intraoperative mortality (P less than 0.01). The aetiology of the intraoperative deaths with one exception was exsanguination. Emergency thoracotomy or sternotomy indicated a poor prognosis with a mortality rate of 80%. The most common intraoperative problem was an elevated airway pressure. Awake intubation was undertaken in 77.5% of patients requiring anaesthesia and surgery because of the potentially compromised airways and difficult intubations due to the nature of the associated injuries. Finally, 74% of patients undergoing urgent surgery required mechanical postoperative ventilation. The presence of blunt chest trauma should be considered a marker of the severity of injury sustained by the patient.
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