Guidelines for the Management of a Pregnant Trauma Patient

Venu Jain, Radha Chari, Sharon Maslovitz, Dan Farine, Emmanuel Bujold, Robert Gagnon, Melanie Basso, Hayley Bos, Richard Brown, Stephanie Cooper, Katy Gouin, N Lynne McLeod, Savas Menticoglou, William Mundle, Christy Pylypjuk, Anne Roggensack, Frank Sanderson
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: JOGC, Journal D'obstétrique et Gynécologie du Canada: JOGC 2015, 37 (6): 553-74

OBJECTIVE: Physical trauma affects 1 in 12 pregnant women and has a major impact on maternal mortality and morbidity and on pregnancy outcome. A multidisciplinary approach is warranted to optimize outcome for both the mother and her fetus. The aim of this document is to provide the obstetric care provider with an evidence-based systematic approach to the pregnant trauma patient.

OUTCOMES: Significant health and economic outcomes considered in comparing alternative practices.

EVIDENCE: Published literature was retrieved through searches of Medline, CINAHL, and The Cochrane Library from October 2007 to September 2013 using appropriate controlled vocabulary (e.g., pregnancy, Cesarean section, hypotension, domestic violence, shock) and key words (e.g., trauma, perimortem Cesarean, Kleihauer-Betke, supine hypotension, electrical shock). Results were restricted to systematic reviews, randomized control trials/controlled clinical trials, and observational studies published in English between January 1968 and September 2013. Searches were updated on a regular basis and incorporated in the guideline to February 2014. Grey (unpublished) literature was identified through searching the websites of health technology assessment and health technology-related agencies, clinical practice guideline collections, clinical trial registries, and national and international medical specialty societies.

VALUES: The quality of evidence in this document was rated using the criteria described in the Report of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (Table 1).

BENEFITS, HARMS, AND COSTS: This guideline is expected to facilitate optimal and uniform care for pregnancies complicated by trauma. Summary Statement Specific traumatic injuries At this time, there is insufficient evidence to support the practice of disabling air bags for pregnant women. (III) Recommendations Primary survey 1. Every female of reproductive age with significant injuries should be considered pregnant until proven otherwise by a definitive pregnancy test or ultrasound scan. (III-C) 2. A nasogastric tube should be inserted in a semiconscious or unconscious injured pregnant woman to prevent aspiration of acidic gastric content. (III-C) 3. Oxygen supplementation should be given to maintain maternal oxygen saturation > 95% to ensure adequate fetal oxygenation. (II-1B) 4. If needed, a thoracostomy tube should be inserted in an injured pregnant woman 1 or 2 intercostal spaces higher than usual. (III-C) 5. Two large bore (14 to 16 gauge) intravenous lines should be placed in a seriously injured pregnant woman. (III-C) 6. Because of their adverse effect on uteroplacental perfusion, vasopressors in pregnant women should be used only for intractable hypotension that is unresponsive to fluid resuscitation. (II-3B) 7. After mid-pregnancy, the gravid uterus should be moved off the inferior vena cava to increase venous return and cardiac output in the acutely injured pregnant woman. This may be achieved by manual displacement of the uterus or left lateral tilt. Care should be taken to secure the spinal cord when using left lateral tilt. (II-1B) 8. To avoid rhesus D (Rh) alloimmunization in Rh-negative mothers, O-negative blood should be transfused when needed until cross-matched blood becomes available. (I-A) 9. The abdominal portion of military anti-shock trousers should not be inflated on a pregnant woman because this may reduce placental perfusion. (II-3B) Transfer to health care facility 10. Transfer or transport to a maternity facility (triage of a labour and delivery unit) is advocated when injuries are neither life- nor limb-threatening and the fetus is viable (≥ 23 weeks), and to the emergency room when the fetus is under 23 weeks' gestational age or considered to be non-viable. When the injury is major, the patient should be transferred or transported to the trauma unit or emergency room, regardless of gestational age. (III-B) 11. When the severity of injury is undetermined or when the gestational age is uncertain, the patient should be evaluated in the trauma unit or emergency room to rule out major injuries. (III-C) Evaluation of a pregnant trauma patient in the emergency room 12. In cases of major trauma, the assessment, stabilization, and care of the pregnant women is the first priority; then, if the fetus is viable (≥ 23 weeks), fetal heart rate auscultation and fetal monitoring can be initiated and an obstetrical consultation obtained as soon as feasible. (II-3B) 13. In pregnant women with a viable fetus (≥ 23 weeks) and suspected uterine contractions, placental abruption, or traumatic uterine rupture, urgent obstetrical consultation is recommended. (II-3B) 14. In cases of vaginal bleeding at or after 23 weeks, speculum or digital vaginal examination should be deferred until placenta previa is excluded by a prior or current ultrasound scan. (III-C) Adjunctive tests for maternal assessment 15. Radiographic studies indicated for maternal evaluation including abdominal computed tomography should not be deferred or delayed due to concerns regarding fetal exposure to radiation. (II-2B) 16. Use of gadolinium-based contrast agents can be considered when maternal benefit outweighs potential fetal risks. (III-C) 17. In addition to the routine blood tests, a pregnant trauma patient should have a coagulation panel including fibrinogen. (III-C) 18. Focused abdominal sonography for trauma should be considered for detection of intraperitoneal bleeding in pregnant trauma patients. (II-3B) 19. Abdominal computed tomography may be considered as an alternative to diagnostic peritoneal lavage or open lavage when intra-abdominal bleeding is suspected. (III-C) Fetal assessment 20. All pregnant trauma patients with a viable pregnancy (≥ 23 weeks) should undergo electronic fetal monitoring for at least 4 hours. (II-3B) 21. Pregnant trauma patients (≥ 23 weeks) with adverse factors including uterine tenderness, significant abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, sustained contractions (> 1/10 min), rupture of the membranes, atypical or abnormal fetal heart rate pattern, high risk mechanism of injury, or serum fibrinogen < 200 mg/dL should be admitted for observation for 24 hours. (III-B) 22. Anti-D immunoglobulin should be given to all rhesus D-negative pregnant trauma patients. (III-B) 23. In Rh-negative pregnant trauma patients, quantification of maternal-fetal hemorrhage by tests such as Kleihauer-Betke should be done to determine the need for additional doses of anti-D immunoglobulin. (III-B) 24. An urgent obstetrical ultrasound scan should be undertaken when the gestational age is undetermined and need for delivery is anticipated. (III-C) 25. All pregnant trauma patients with a viable pregnancy who are admitted for fetal monitoring for greater than 4 hours should have an obstetrical ultrasound prior to discharge from hospital. (III-C) 26. Fetal well-being should be carefully documented in cases involving violence, especially for legal purposes. (III-C) Obstetrical complications of trauma 27. Management of suspected placental abruption should not be delayed pending confirmation by ultrasonography as ultrasound is not a sensitive tool for its diagnosis. (II-3D) Specific traumatic injuries 28. Tetanus vaccination is safe in pregnancy and should be given when indicated. (II-3B) 29. Every woman who sustains trauma should be questioned specifically about domestic or intimate partner violence. (II-3B) 30. During prenatal visits, the caregiver should emphasize the importance of wearing seatbelts properly at all times. (II-2B) Perimortem Caesarean section 31. A Caesarean section should be performed for viable pregnancies (≥ 23 weeks) no later than 4 minutes (when possible) following maternal cardiac arrest to aid with maternal resuscitation and fetal salvage. (III-B).

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