Penetrating trauma to the abdominal vessels
Abstract Between January 1975 and December 1989, 1860 patients were admitted to the American University of Beirut Medical Centre with abdominal injuries. Their mean age was 23 years. Of these patients 107 had vascular injuries (an incidence of 6%). Bullets were the most common injurious agents (72%), followed by shrapnel (22%). There were 28 arterial and 113 venous injuries. All patients presented to the emergency unit within 5 h of injury (mean 45 min) and were surgically explored. The overall mortality rate was 36.5%. Patients who were haemodynamically stable had a better outcome than those who presented in shock ( P < 0.005). The major cause of death was haemorrhage from uncontrolled bleeding. Two subgroups with a higher mortality were identified: patients with inferior vena caval injury associated with a liver injury had a mortality rate of 78.5%, and those with vascular injury associated with pelvic fracture had a mortality rate of 57% ( P < 0.05). Abdominal vascular injuries have a high mortality rate, especially if the inferior vena cava is involved or associated pelvic fractures are present. Prompt resuscitation and control of bleeding are the key to an improved salvage rate.
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