Diaphragmatic rupture and the association with occupant position in right-hand drive vehicles

Injury. 2001 Jul;32(6):441-4. doi: 10.1016/s0020-1383(01)00028-6.


Ruptured diaphragm following blunt trauma occurs with an incidence of 3 to 8% with right-sided rupture recognised with increasing frequency. This study aimed to investigate the influence of occupant position in right-hand drive (RHD) vehicles on the side of diaphragmatic injury. A retrospective analysis of the Scottish Trauma Audit Group database was performed to gather data on blunt diaphragmatic lacerations. Police records were also searched to ascertain the point of impact in the accidents studied. In total, 35 patients were studied, 25 drivers and 10 front-seat passengers. The incidence of right-sided rupture was 40% in drivers and 20% in FSPs. The incidence of associated pulmonary contusion, rib fracture and liver injury was also higher in drivers. Given the small sample size, these differences were not statistically significant, but they show an interesting trend. The right side of a driver's body is more exposed to injury in RHD vehicles, a fact that explains the significant association between driver's side impact and right-sided rupture. As right-sided injury is more difficult to detect, it is important that a high index of suspicion is maintained, especially when managing drivers from RHD vehicles.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adult
  • Automobiles*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Contusions / etiology
  • Female
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic, Traumatic / etiology*
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic, Traumatic / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / injuries
  • Lung Injury
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rib Fractures / etiology
  • Sample Size
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / etiology
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / pathology