Incidence and crash mechanisms of aortic injury during the past decade

J Trauma. 2007 Mar;62(3):664-7. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318031b58c.


Background: Aortic injuries were traditionally thought to be the result of severe frontal crashes. Newer data has suggested other crash types such as nearside crashes may also be important in aortic injury. We hypothesized the implementation of recent safety measures would decrease the incidence of aortic injury associated with fatal motor vehicle crashes.

Methods: The autopsy reports of all traffic fatalities for motor vehicle occupants in a large urban county for the years 1993 to 2004 were examined. The demographics, impact types, safety measures used, and the presence of any aortic injury were recorded. Trends were evaluated for significance by weighted linear regression.

Results: The incidence of aortic injury associated with fatal motor vehicle crashes has remained unchanged during the past 12 years (r = 0.057, p = 0.45). There is a trend toward decreased aortic injuries associated with frontal crashes (r = 0.26, p = 0.089) but no change in aortic injuries associated with nearside or farside crashes (r = 0.053, p = 0.47), when the crash resulted in a fatality. This is despite an increase in seat belt use and increased presence of airbags during the same time period.

Conclusions: Despite improved safety measures designed to minimize the occurrence of aortic injuries, the incidence of blunt aortic injury in fatal motor vehicle crashes has not decreased during the past decade. Although not statistically significant, there is a trend toward decreased frontal impacts in fatal motor vehicle crashes associated with aortic injuries. The nearside crash mechanism continues to play a prominent role, and efforts at improving vehicle safety should be focused on crash mechanisms as they relate to aortic injury.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic* / mortality
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aorta / injuries*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Safety
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / epidemiology*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / prevention & control