Over the past, the severe thoracic trauma has had decisive influence on the outcome of multiple injured patients. Today, new therapies (e.g. extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), protective ventilation methods and new forms of patient positioning) are available and applied regularly. What impact on the patient’s outcome does the thoracic trauma have today?
Prospective data collection of multiple injured patients in a level-I trauma center was performed between 2008 and 2014. Patients with an ISS ≥16 were included and divided into 2 groups: Severe thoracic trauma (STT: AISThorax ≥ 3) and mild thoracic trauma (MTT: AISThorax < 3). In addition to preclinical and trauma room care, detailed information about clinical course and outcome were assessed.
In total, 529 patients (STT: n = 317; MTT: n = 212) met the in- and exclusion criteria. The mean Injury Severity Score (ISS) was significantly higher in patients of the STT group (STT: 33.5 vs. MTT: 24.7; p < 0.001), while the RISC II Score showed no significant differences (STT: 20.0 vs. MTT: 17.1; p = 0.241). Preclinical data revealed a higher intubation rate, more chest tube insertions and a higher use of catecholamines in the STT group (p < 0.05). Clinically, we found significant differences in the duration of invasive ventilation (STT: 7.3d vs. MTT: 5.4d; p = 0.001) and ICU stay (STT: 12.3d vs. MTT: 9.4d; p < 0.001). While the complication rate was higher for the STT group (sepsis (STT: 11.4% vs. MTT: 5.7%; p = 0.017); lung failure (STT: 23.7% vs. MTT: 12.3%; p = 0,001)), neither the non-adjusted lethality rate (STT: 13.2% vs. MTT: 13.7%; p = 0.493) nor the Standardized Mortality Ratio (SMR) showed significant differences (STT: 0.66 vs. MTT: 0.80; p = 0.397). The multivariate regressive analysis confirmed that severe thoracic trauma is not an independent risk factor for lethality in our patient cohort.
Despite a higher injury severity, the extended need of emergency measures and a higher rate of complications in injured patients with severe blunt thoracic trauma, no influence on lethality can be proved. The reduction of the complication rate should be a goal for the next decades.