A 6-year case series of resuscitative thoracotomies performed by a helicopter emergency medical service in a mixed urban and rural area with a comparison of blunt versus penetrating trauma

Resuscitative thoracotomy (RT) is an intervention that can be performed in the prehospital setting for relieving cardiac tamponade and/or obtaining vascular control of suspected sub-diaphragmatic haemorrhage in patients in traumatic cardiac arrest. The aim of this retrospective case study is to compare the rates of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) in RTs performed for both penetrating and blunt trauma over 6 years in a mixed urban and rural environment. The electronic records of a single helicopter emergency medical service were reviewed between 1st June 2015 and 31st May 2021 for RTs. Anonymised data including demographics were extracted for relevant cases. Data were analysed with independent t-tests and Χ2 tests. A p value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Forty-four RTs were preformed within the 6 years (26 for blunt trauma). Eleven ROSCs were achieved (nine blunt, two penetrating) but no patient survived to discharge. In contrast to RTs for penetrating trauma, twelve of the RTs for blunt trauma had a cardiac output present on arrival of the prehospital team (p = 0.01). Two patients had an RT performed in a helicopter (one ROSC) and two on a helipad (both achieving ROSC), likely due to the longer transfer times seen in a more rural setting. Four of the RTs for blunt trauma (15%) were found to have a cardiac tamponade versus seven (39%) of the penetrating trauma RTs. Prehospital RT remains a procedure with low rates of survival but may facilitate a ROSC to allow patients to reach hospital and surgery, particularly when distances to hospitals are greater. A higher-than-expected rate of cardiac tamponade was seen in RTs for blunt trauma, although not caused by a right ventricular wound but instead due to underlying vessel damage.
— Read on www.readcube.com/articles/10.1186/s13049-022-00997-4

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