Predictors of mortality in patients with traumatic diaphragmatic rupture and associated thoracic and/or abdominal injuries

Mallory Williams, Arthur M Carlin, James G Tyburski, Jason M Blocksom, Elizabeth H Harvey, Christopher P Steffes, Robert F Wilson
American Surgeon 2004, 70 (2): 157-62; discussion 162-3
This is a retrospective review of 731 patients sustaining diaphragmatic trauma over a 22 year period (1980-2002) at an urban level I trauma center. Patients had an average injury severity score (ISS) of 22 +/- 12. The mortality rate (MR) was 23 per cent (168/731). There were a total of 460 left-sided diaphragmatic injuries (L-TDR), 263 right-sided diaphragmatic injuries (R-TDR), and 8 bilateral diaphragmatic injuries (B-TDR). There were no significant differences in mortality with L-TDR versus R-TDR. Shotgun wounds had the highest MR (42%) (P = 0.0028). Emergency thoracotomies were performed in 31 per cent (225) with a 62 per cent (140) MR. Bilateral thoracotomies had a significantly higher MR of 85 per cent (33/39) compared to the 58 per cent (107/186) for unilateral thoracotomies (P = 0.0028). Multivariate analysis revealed the most significant independent predictors of mortality to be the revised trauma score, transfusion of pRBCs > 10 units, and need for thoracotomy (P < 0.0001). The infection rate was 41 per cent. Multivariate analysis revealed blunt trauma, blood transfusions, ISS, and pancreatic injury as the most significant independent predictors of infection (P < 0.001). The initial physiologic presentation of the patient and the severity of hemorrhagic shock are the primary determinants for survival. Prompt identification of associated injuries with rapid control of bleeding is paramount to survival.

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