To determine limitations in survival and problems of single and multiple organ failure (SOF, MOF) following trauma in Bavaria, we reviewed 433 consecutive patients with multiple injuries treated at the Klinikum Grosshadern from 1978 through 1982. Most patients were young and were injured in traffic accidents. The overall mortality was 18% (78 deaths): 38 deaths were due to CNS injuries (49%), six from miscellaneous causes (7%), 15 associated with SOF (19%), and 19 associated with MOF (25%). There were 50 patients with SOF and 34 with MOF. Two MOF patterns were found: a rapid single-phase (15 patients) due to trauma and shock; and a delayed two-phase MOF (19 patients) due to trauma, shock, and sepsis. Mortality for the MOF group was 56%. The lung was the predominant organ to fail represented in all SOF and MOF cases. Cimetidine and pirenzipin prevented stress bleeding in all but four patients. Significant factors leading to MOF were shock, massive blood transfusions, sepsis, and errors in treatment. The temporal sequence of organ failure was lung, clotting system, kidney, and liver. Sepsis was ultimately the cause of death in eight MOF patients (42%). Earlier pulmonary and cardiovascular support beginning at the scene of the accident, and prevention and better treatment of head injury, respiratory failure, and sepsis are critical factors for increasing survival after injury.
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