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. 2009 Sep;40(9):938-45.
doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2009.05.016. Epub 2009 Jun 21.

Blunt Traumatic Cardiac Rupture: Therapeutic Options and Outcomes


Blunt Traumatic Cardiac Rupture: Therapeutic Options and Outcomes

Yu-Yun Nan et al. Injury. .


Introduction: Cardiac rupture following blunt thoracic trauma is rarely encountered by clinicians, since it commonly causes death at the scene. With advances in traumatology, blunt cardiac rupture had been increasingly disclosed in various ways. This study reviews our experience of patients with suspected blunt traumatic cardiac rupture and proposes treatment protocols for the same.

Methods: This is a 5-year retrospective study of trauma patients confirmed with blunt traumatic cardiac rupture admitted to a university-affiliated tertiary trauma referral centre. The following information was collected from the patients: age, sex, mechanism of injury, initial effective diagnostic tool used for diagnosing blunt cardiac rupture, location and size of the cardiac injury, associated injury and injury severity score (ISS), reversed trauma score (RTS), survival probability of trauma and injury severity scoring (TRISS), vital signs and biochemical lab data on arrival at the trauma centre, time elapsed from injury to diagnosis and surgery, surgical details, hospital course and final outcome.

Results: The study comprised 8 men and 3 women with a median age of 39 years (range: 24-73 years) and the median follow-up was 5.5 months (range: 1-35 months). The ISS, RTS, and TRISS scores of the patients were 32.18+/-5.7 (range: 25-43), 6.267+/-1.684 (range: 2.628-7.841), and 72.4+/-25.6% (range: 28.6-95.5%), respectively. Cardiac injuries were first detected using focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) in 4 (36.3%) patients, using transthoracic echocardiography in 3 (27.3%) patients, chest CT in 1 (9%) patient, and intra-operatively in 3 (27.3%) patients. The sites of cardiac injury comprised the superior vena cava/right atrium junction (n=4), right atrial auricle (n=1), right ventricle (n=4), left ventricular contusion (n=1), and diffuse endomyocardial dissection over the right and left ventricles (n=1). Notably, 2 had pericardial lacerations presenting as a massive haemothorax, which initially masked the cardiac rupture. The in-hospital mortality was 27.3% (3/11) with 1 intra-operative death, 1 multiple organ failure, and 1 death while waiting for cardiac transplantation. Another patient with morbid neurological defects died on the thirty-third postoperative day; the overall survival was 63.6% (7/11). Compared with the surviving patients, the fatalities had higher RTS and TRISS scores, serum creatinine levels, had received greater blood transfusions, and had a worse preoperative conscious state.

Conclusions: We proposed a protocol combining various diagnostic tools, including FAST, CT, transthoracic echocardiography, and TEE, to manage suspected blunt traumatic cardiac rupture. Pericardial defects can mask the cardiac lesion and complicate definite cardiac repair. Comorbid trauma, particularly neurological injury, may have an impact on the survival of such patients, despite timely repair of the cardiac lesions.

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