Major cardiothoracic trauma: Eleven-year review of outcomes in the North West of England

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Up to 15% of patients with cardiothoracic trauma require emergency surgery, and death can be prevented in a substantial proportion of this group. UK reports have emphasised the need for improvement in this field. We assessed major cardiothoracic trauma (MCT) outcomes in North West England over 11 years.


The database from the Trauma Audit and Research Network was used to retrieve data for all patients who had suffered MCT between 2000 and 2011 in North West England and the findings analysed. Trauma that led to thoracotomy/thoracoscopy or sternotomy was defined as MCT.


A total of 146 patients were identified, and a considerable male predominance (88.4%) noted. A total of 54.1% had sustained penetrating cardiothoracic trauma. Also, 53.4% had been admitted to tertiary-care hospitals for trauma (TCHT) and 46.6% had been admitted to non-TCHT. Overall prevalence of mortality was 35.6%. No significant difference was found in mortality between TCHT vs non-TCHT. Prevalence of mortality was significantly higher in the subgroup of patients cared for exclusively in non-TCHT compared with patients transferred from non-TCHT to TCHT (41% vs 13.8%, p<0.05).


No significant difference was demonstrated in length of stay in hospital/length of stay in the intensive treatment unit and prevalence of mortality between patients originally presenting in TCHT and those presenting in non-TCHT. However, patients transferred from non-TCHT to TCHT had a lower prevalence of mortality. These findings may constitute a valuable benchmark for comparison with results arising after introduction of trauma centres in the UK.

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