Traumatic shock: the fifth shock

J Trauma Nurs. Jan-Mar 2013;20(1):37-43. doi: 10.1097/JTN.0b013e318286620a.


Although, historically, shock associated with traumatic injury has been evaluated through knowledge of the 4 recognized shock patterns--cardiogenic, obstructive, distributive, and hypovolemic--many trauma practitioners view traumatic shock as a unique fifth shock pattern. Although secondary to a systemic inflammatory response syndrome triggered by endogenous danger signals, traumatic shock represents a unique pathological condition that begins with multiple, usually blunt, trauma and may conclude with multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and death. While varying mechanisms of injury may lead to different presentations of shock and cardiovascular decompensation, a unifying theme of traumatic shock is an overwhelming inflammatory response driven by proinflammatory cytokines, and the downstream results of this cytokine storm including, but not limited to, acute respiratory distress syndrome, coagulopathy, sepsis, and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. Treatment is primarily supportive; however, research into novel therapeutics for traumatic shock is ongoing and promises some direction for future care.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adolescent
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Nursing / methods*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Organ Failure* / nursing
  • Multiple Organ Failure* / physiopathology
  • Multiple Organ Failure* / therapy
  • Off-Road Motor Vehicles
  • Shock, Traumatic* / nursing
  • Shock, Traumatic* / physiopathology
  • Shock, Traumatic* / therapy