Survival after pre-hospital emergency clamshell thoracotomy for blunt cardiac rupture

Published:September 16, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2019.09.023

      Highlights

      • Cardiac rupture associated with blunt trauma is usually associated with a high mortality.
      • Our patient had a traumatic cardiac arrest due to blunt trauma. Thoracotomy was performed to relieve a tamponade.
      • The evidence for indiscriminate thoracotomy for blunt traumatic cardiac arrest is poor. The addition of ultrasound can support decision making.
      • The first documented case of neurological survival post pre-hospital clamshell thoracotomy for blunt traumatic arrest.

      Abstract

      Blunt trauma causing cardiac rupture is usually fatal. We report a patient with blunt cardiac injury that suffered traumatic cardiac arrest in the pre-hospital phase of their care. A cardiac tamponade was confirmed with portable ultrasound in a brief return of circulation. The patient had a further cardiac arrest and subsequently underwent damage control emergency surgery via a clamshell thoracotomy at the scene. The tamponade was released and a clamp was applied to the identified left atrial appendage rupture, a return of circulation then occurred.
      He was transferred to a cardiothoracic centre where a left atrial appendage rupture was identified and closed. The patient had a complicated recovery in hospital but went on to survive neurologically intact. This is the first documented case report of a neurologically intact survivor of a pre-hospital clamshell thoracotomy for blunt trauma. Although survivors of blunt trauma who have pre-hospital thoracotomy are extremely rare it should be considered in very specific circumstances.

      Keywords

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