Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) and facial trauma: can one size fit all? Part 3: Hypovolaemia and facial injuries in the multiply injured patient

M Perry, J O'Hare, G Porter
International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2008, 37 (5): 405-14
Hypovolaemic shock is a common cause of morbidity and mortality following trauma, accounting for approximately 30% to 40% of trauma deaths. Life-threatening blood loss from the maxillofacial region is uncommon, but represents one of a number of possible sites which must be rapidly identified and controlled. Bleeding from the face may not be obvious especially in awake, supine patients and it poses an obvious threat to the unprotected airway. Identification requires careful assessment. Control of bleeding in the maxillofacial region requires a number of correctly sequenced techniques. Computerized tomographic imaging is now playing an increasingly important role in identifying blood loss, especially in the chest, abdomen and pelvis. This need may potentially result in the transfer of patients, with unrecognised facial injuries, outside the relative safety of the emergency department. The concepts of the 'lethal triad' and 'biologic first hit' have resulted in new strategies in managing the profoundly shocked patient, although some of these remain controversial. Debate continues over the optimal blood pressure, fluid administration and role of surgical intervention in the actively bleeding patient. These may have an impact on the timing and extent of any proposed maxillofacial repairs, and are discussed.

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