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Damage-control techniques in the management of severe lung trauma

Garcia, Alberto MD; Martinez, Juan MD; Rodriguez, Julio MD; Millan, Mauricio MD; Valderrama, Gustavo MD; Ordoñez, Carlos MD; Puyana, Juan Carlos MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: January 2015 - Volume 78 - Issue 1 - p 45–51
doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000482
AAST Plenary Papers

BACKGROUND Damage control (DC) has improved survival from severe abdominal and extremity injuries. The data on the surgical strategies and outcomes in patients managed with DC for severe thoracic injuries are scarce.

METHODS This is a retrospective review of patients treated with DC for thoracic/pulmonary complex trauma at two Level I trauma centers from 2006 to 2010. Subjects 14 years and older were included. Demographics, trauma characteristics, surgical techniques, and resuscitation strategies were reviewed.

RESULTS A total of 840 trauma thoracotomies were performed. DC thoracotomy (DCT) was performed in 31 patients (3.7%). Pulmonary trauma was found in 25 of them. The median age was 28 years (interquartile range [IQR], 20–34 years), Revised Trauma Score (RTS) was 7.11 (IQR, 5.44–7.55), and Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 26 (IQR, 25–41). Nineteen patients had gunshot wounds, four had stab wounds, and two had blunt trauma.

Pulmonary trauma was managed by pneumorrhaphy in 3, tractotomy in 12, wedge resection in 1, and packing as primary treatment in 8 patients. Clamping of the pulmonary hilum was used as a last resource in seven patients. Five patients returned to the intensive care unit with the pulmonary hilum occluded by a vascular clamp or an en masse ligature. These patients underwent a deferred resection within 16 hours to 90 hours after the initial DCT. Four of them survived.

Bleeding from other intrathoracic sources was found in 20 patients: major vessels in nine, heart in three, and thoracic wall in nine.

DCT mortality in pulmonary trauma was 6 (24%) of 25 because of coagulopathy, or persistent bleeding in 5 patients and multiorgan failure in 1 patient.

CONCLUSION This series describes our experience with DCT in severe lung trauma. We describe pulmonary hilum clamping and deferred lung resection as a viable surgical alternative for major pulmonary injuries and the use of packing as a definitive method for hemorrhage control.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Epidemiologic study, level V.

From the Department of Surgery (AG, JR, MM, GV, CO) and CISALVA Institute (AG, CO), Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia. Departments of Surgery (AG, CO) and Intensive Care Unit (AG, JM, CO), Fundaciœn Valle del Lili, Cali, Colombia. Department of Surgery (JM), Universidad CES, Cali, Colombia. Department of Surgery (JR, MM, GV), Hospital Universitario del Valle, Cali, Colombia. Department of Surgery (JCP), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

Submitted: December 31, 2013, Revised: August 25, 2014, Accepted: September 2, 2014.

Supported (in part) by the Fogarty International Center NIH Grant D43 TW007560.

This paper was presented at the 70th annual meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, September 14–17, 2011, in Chicago, Illinois.

Address for reprints: Alberto Garcia, MD, Department of Surgery and CISALVA Institute, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia, Departments of Surgery and IntensiveCareUnit, FundacioÇn Valle del Lili, Cali,Colombia. Calle 6Oeste # 10 Y 85. Torre 7, Apartamento 202 Cali, Colombia; email:;

© 2015 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.