Penetrating Heart Injuries and Common Difficulties Encountered During Emergency Surgery

Mahmut Tokur, Mehmet Ergin, Can Kurkcuoglu


Background: Penetrating heart injuries are seldom but are highly lethal traumas. In-house cardiac surgery teams and adequate technical equipment are generally not found outside of major health institutions in Turkey. We evaluate the diagnosis and treatment of penetrating heart injuries, the difficulties encountered during surgical treatment of such conditions as well as problems faced by hospitals with limited cardiac surgery manpower and lacking adequate equipment to deal with such incidents.

Methods: The diagnosis ofpenetrating heart injury between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2009 was scanned through hospital data processing system. Eleven patients presenting to Kahramanmaras State Hospital were retrospectively evaluated.

Results: Three (26%) of the patients presented with signs of hypovolemia, four (37%) with progressive shock and four (37%) with shallow respiration in addition to progressive shock. The etiology of the injuries were edged and sharp objects in 9 (82%) cases, puncture from a fractured sternum and/or ribs in 2 (18%) case. The total mortality was 63% in our case series.

Conclusion: Cardiac injuries are the types of trauma that require rapid surgical intervention. However, combination of a lack of specialized surgical teams and/or the time for rapid intervention at the initial health care facility reduces the possibility of surviving patient.



Emergency surgery; Heart injury; Penetrating trauma

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