Treatment results of patients with multiple trauma: an analysis of 3406 cases treated between 1972 and 1991 at a German Level I Trauma Center

J Trauma. 1995 Jan;38(1):70-8. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199501000-00020.


The quality and progress of treatment for 3406 multiple trauma patients was reviewed retrospectively. Two periods (1972 to 1981, the first decade, and 1982 to 1991, the second decade) were compared. Sixty-nine percent of patients with multiple trauma had cerebral injuries, 62% thoracic trauma, and 86% fractures (40% open fractures). Concerning injury combinations, there was an increase of head/extremity injuries and thoracic/extremity injuries, whereas all combinations with abdominal injuries decreased. The relation between severity of injury as well as number of injured body regions and the mortality rate was significant. In the second decade prehospital care became more aggressive with an increase in use of intravenous fluid resuscitation (from 80% to 98%), intubation (from 84% to 91%), and chest tube insertion (from 37% to 76%). Rescue times were progressively shortened. For initial clinical diagnosis of massive abdominal hemorrhage, ultrasound (89%) nearly replaced peritoneal lavage (10%) and led to earlier surgical approach. For diagnosis of head injury, CT scan was used more frequently. Primary stabilization of long bone fractures, especially of the lower limb, is recommended. Concerning complications, the change in volume therapy helped to nearly eliminate acute renal failure (from 8.4% to 3.7%), the modification of respirator treatment led to a decrease of pulmonary insufficiency (ARDS; from 18.2% to 12.0%), whereas the rate of multiple organ failure increased. The mortality rate declined from 37% in the first decade to 22% in the second decade. The incidence of lethal multiple organ failure increased from 13.8% in the first decade to 18.6% in the second decade, whereas the mortality rate of ARDS decreased from 32.4% to 15.9%. Further reduction of incidents of death is only possible with causal therapy of posttraumatic organ failure immediately after injury.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / epidemiology
  • Multiple Trauma / mortality
  • Multiple Trauma / surgery
  • Multiple Trauma / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trauma Centers
  • Treatment Outcome