Blunt hollow viscus injury (HVI) is uncommon. No sufficiently large series has studied the prevalence of these injuries in blunt trauma patients. This study defines the prevalence of blunt HVI, in addition to the associated morbidity and mortality rates for this diagnosis on the basis of a series of over 275,000 trauma admissions.
Patients with blunt small bowel injury (SBI) were identified from the registries of 95 trauma centers for a 2-year period (1998–1999). Each HVI patient (case) was matched by age and Injury Severity Score with a blunt trauma patient receiving an abdominal workup who did not have HVI (control). Patient level data were abstracted by individual chart review. Institution level data were collected on total numbers for trauma admission demographics and on total diagnostic examinations performed.
From 275,557 trauma admissions, 227,972 blunt injury patients were identified. HVI was rare, with 2,632 patients identified from this group. Perforating small bowel injury accounted for less than 0.3% of blunt admissions. Mortality and morbidity were high for HVI. Controlling for injury severity, patients with HVI were usually at higher risk of death than non-HVI patients.
HVI is a rare but deadly phenomenon. The high mortality rates reflect the severity of the HVI and associated injuries. HVI patients should be carefully monitored for related injuries and complications.