Damage control for thoracic injuries

Surg Clin North Am. 1997 Aug;77(4):863-78. doi: 10.1016/s0039-6109(05)70590-9.


Some of the earliest damage control techniques were applied to the chest during emergency center thoracotomy. It provided a paradigm that was adapted to other areas. Damage control of chest injuries has a different philosophy than that of abdominal injuries. Damage control in the abdomen primarily consists of multiple staged operations with abbreviated closures. Damage control in the chest consists of different technical maneuvers to use quicker and technically less demanding operations to accomplish the same goal. The philosophy of doing only enough to restore a survivable physiology is still a common theme. The following are the major principles of damage control for thoracic injuries: 1. Emergency center thoracotomy is a damage control prototype. 2. Anterolateral thoracotomy is the empiric incision of choice in the patient in extremis. 3. Nonanatomically stapled lung resections, pulmonary tractotomy, and en masse lobectomy/pneumonectomy are pulmonary damage control procedures. 4. The unique physiology of the chest may require en masse closure of muscles or patch closure of the wound. 5. Cardiopulmonary physiology can be affected by packing. Packing thus has a limited role in thoracic damage control. 6. Prosthetic grafts, intravascular shunts, and ligation are common thoracic vascular damage control techniques. 7. With new technology, an increased role for cardiopulmonary bypass and cardiac assistance may develop. 8. New technology must not overly complicate a procedure if it is to be a valuable damage control adjunct.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteries / injuries
  • Blood Loss, Surgical / prevention & control
  • Esophagus / injuries
  • Heart Injuries / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lung Injury
  • Postoperative Care
  • Thoracic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Thoracic Injuries / surgery*
  • Trachea / injuries
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures