Survival after emergency department versus operating room thoracotomy for penetrating cardiac injuries

D. P. Blake, V. L. Gisbert, A. L. Ney, H. K. Helseth, D. W. Plummer, E. Ruiz, M. P. Bubrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The authors undertook a 6-year retrospective review to assess their experience with penetrating cardiac injuries. Special emphasis was placed on identifying patients with and without tamponade and those requiring emergency department (ED) thoracotomy. Forty-eight patients were identified. Overall survival was 64.6 per cent. Thirty-three patients had tamponade, with 20 requiring ED thoracotomy. Fifteen patients did not have tamponade and two of these needed ED thoracotomy. Five patients who had ED thoracotomy were long- term survivors (22.7%). The remaining 26 patients, 13 with tamponade and 13 without, received operating room (OR) thoracotomy and all survived. The data shows that excellent results are possible with OR thoracotomy for penetrating cardiac injuries, with or without tamponade. However, results are not as good when ED thoracotomy is necessary. This may relate to the severity of the injury, the duration of tamponade, or the inability to control cardiac bleeding during thoracotomy in the ED setting. Even though survival is low with ED thoracotomy, it is high enough to continue to support its use in the deteriorating patient with a penetrating cardiac wound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-333
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992


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