Objectives: This population-based study aims to determine the incidence, mechanisms and outcomes of aortic trauma in patients from Scotland between 1992-2002.
Methods: Patients with aortic trauma were identified from the Scottish Trauma Audit Group database. Demographics, mechanism of injury, initial management and outcome were analysed.
Results: 165 (0.3%) patients suffered trauma to the thoracic or abdominal aorta. Of these, 130 (79%) patients had an injury of the thoracic aorta, 33 (20%) an injury of the abdominal aorta and two (1%) had injuries of both. There were 123 (75%) men and 42 (25%) women with a median (range) age of 36 (14-90) years. Blunt trauma was responsible for 121 (73%) injuries, of which road traffic accidents were the most common mechanism. A further 44 (27%) aortic injuries were due to penetrating trauma, of which assault was the most common cause. The median (range) Injury Severity Score was 43 (16-75). Ninety (55%) patients died in the emergency department while 59 (32%) underwent attempted operative repair. The operative mortality was 35 (59%) of 59 patients and overall mortality 141 (86%) of 165 patients.
Conclusions: The incidence of aortic trauma presenting to Scottish hospitals is low. The majority of patients do not survive to surgical repair and operative and overall mortality remain prohibitive.