Myocardial contusion in the stable patient: what level of care is appropriate?

Surgery. 1989 Aug;106(2):267-73; discussion 273-4.


To evaluate the significance of myocardial contusion, we evaluated 243 stable patients hospitalized for blunt chest trauma between 1982 and 1986. The groups were identified according to results of radionuclide angiography, mean injury severity score (ISS), and outcome. Group I (n = 71; mean ISS = 12.7) patients were those without myocardial contusion by radionuclide angiography. Two patients with cardiac complications were in this group. The patients with myocardial contusion were divided into two groups. Group II (n = 69; ISS = 19.5) patients had myocardial contusion as an isolated injury, and group III (n = 103; ISS = 30.9) patients had myocardial contusion and injury to at least one other organ system. Three patients from group II had cardiac complications. Eleven patients from group III had cardiac complications. There were no significant differences between the cardiac complication rate in the three groups, and each complication was present when the patient arrived in the emergency department. The predicted mortality rate based on ISS was 10% to 20% for patients with myocardial contusion, whereas the observed mortality rate for the groups (II and III) overall was 0.58%. We conclude that in the stable trauma patient myocardial contusion (1) does not by itself increase the risk of complication, (2) does not necessitate intensive care unit monitoring, (3) should be devalued when computing ISS scores, (4) may account for lengthy and often unnecessary hospitalization, and (5) in patients at risk for complications may be identified by ECG abnormalities on arrival to the emergency department.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Contusions / diagnostic imaging
  • Contusions / physiopathology
  • Contusions / therapy*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Injuries / physiopathology
  • Heart Injuries / therapy*
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Radionuclide Angiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / physiopathology
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy*