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Open Access Research article

Outcome of major cardiac injuries at a Canadian trauma center

Khaled Alanezi, G Scott Milencoff, Frank GH Baillie, Andre Lamy and John D Urschel*

Author Affiliations

Department of Surgery, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Surgery 2002, 2:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-2-4

Published: 10 June 2002

Abstract

Background

Canadian trauma units have relatively little experience with major cardiac trauma (disruption of a cardiac chamber) so injury outcome may not be comparable to that reported from other countries. We compared our outcomes to those of other centers.

Methods

Records of patients suffering major cardiac trauma over a nine-year period were reviewed. Factors predictive of outcome were analyzed.

Results

Twenty-seven patients (11 blunt and 16 penetrating) with major cardiac trauma were evaluated. Injury severity scores (ISS) were similar for blunt (49.6 ± 16.6) and penetrating (39.5 ± 21.6, p = 0.20) injuries. Five of 11 blunt trauma patients, and 9 of 16 penetrating trauma patients, had detectable vital signs on hospital arrival (p = 0.43). Ten patients underwent emergency department thoracotomy and 11 patients had cardiac repair in the operating theatre. Eleven patients survived and 16 died. Survivors had a lower ISS (33.7 ± 15.4) than non-survivors (50.4 ± 20.4; p = 0.03). Two of 11 blunt trauma patients and 9 of 16 penetrating trauma patients survived (p = 0.06). Eleven of 14 patients with detectable vital signs survived; all 13 without detectable vital signs died (p = 0.00003). Ten of eleven patients treated in the operating theatre survived, while only one of the other 16 patients survived (p = 0.00002).

Conclusions

Patients with major cardiac injuries and detectable vital signs on hospital arrival can be salvaged by prompt surgical intervention in the operating theatre. Major cardiac injuries are infrequently encountered at our center but patient survival is comparable to that reported from trauma units in other countries.