Expanding Hematoma's Life-Threatening Neck and Face Emergency Management of Ballistic Injuries

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This article aims to bring attention to the morbidity and fatality of hemorrhage, how expanding hematoma and air compromise neck/face N/F injuries and present challenges. Large neck vessel ballistic injuries may lead to hemorrhage and expanding hematoma, resulting in airway compromise, due to injuries to the internal and/or external carotid arteries, internal jugular veins “internal carotid artery, external carotid artery, internal jugular vein,” and the external carotid artery deep branches. This also leads to injuries to the cervical fascial layers (barriers of deep spaces) that facilitate pooling blood and hematoma into compartmental and large potential space which effects the pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and trachea.

The expanding hematomas distort neck anatomical landmarks so “no neck zones” classifications are applicable. As the spectrum of injuries continues to evolve, the clinical characterization needs a new categorization based on compartmental hematoma and potential space anatomical location like retropharyngeal, parapharyngeal, sublingual, submandibular spaces, retrobulbar, and cheek compartment space hematomas.

Presence of symptoms and location of the hematoma generally dictate what type of procedure is needed and how urgently it needs to be appropriately performed.

Two unusual patients of pseudoaneurysms facial artery injuries with extravasation of blood producing a pulsating hematoma are referred to. Another patient considers large internal carotid artery injuries pseudoaneurysms revealed in angiography.

The immediate management of life-saving patients requires aggressive airway maintenance at the scene, conscious victim will often obtain a posture that clears his airway and the semiconscious or unconscious put him in prone position. Air compromise may need emergency intubation, large bore cannula cricothyroidotomy, cricothyrotomy and at medical facilities tracheostomy.

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