Penetrating thoracic injury is commonly found in South Africa. A review of our recent experience was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of our protocols for this type of injury.Methods
A retrospective study of 61 consecutive patients with penetrating, non-mediastinal trauma to the chest was conducted over 32 months at a single trauma unit. Patient details, mechanism of injury, operative procedure and in-hospital mortality and morbidity rates were recorded.Results
Two thousand and nineteen patients presented with penetrating chest injury of which 61 patients (3%) underwent thoracic surgery for non-mediastinal injury. Twenty-six patients had stab wounds and 35 had gunshot wounds. Overall mortality was 17/61 (28%). Gunshot wounds were more likely to result in death than stab wounds (relative risk = 11.9; 95% confidence interval 1.7–84.0) and thoracoabdominal injury resulted in death more commonly than chest injury (relative risk = 4.8; 95% confidence interval 2.2–10.3) resulted in death.Conclusion
Penetrating chest injury is common and most patients can be managed without formal thoracic surgical intervention. However, the patients who do merit surgical intervention have a relatively high mortality and a rapid and practised operative approach is required to achieve acceptable results.