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ANZ J Surg. 2005 Apr;75(4):225-30.

Severe trauma caused by stabbing and firearms in metropolitan Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

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  • 1Department of Trauma, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



Stabbing and firearm trauma causing severe injuries (injury severity score (ISS) >15) and death is uncommon in Australia. The present study describes the experience with stabbings and firearm trauma causing severe injuries at a major Australian urban trauma centre.


Data from a prospectively generated trauma registry regarding all patients presenting to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), Sydney, Australia with penetrating trauma causing severe injuries from July 1991 to June 2001 was retrospectively analysed.


Of all patients presenting to RPAH with stabbing and firearms wounds over the 11 year study period, 28% received an ISS >15. One hundred and forty patients were identified. 94% were male. The mean age was 34 years (15-82 years). The number of cases/year has not shown an increasing trend. Thirty per cent of patients sustained firearm related injuries, with the remainder mainly caused by knives or machetes. Fifteen per cent of injuries were self inflicted. The most common location of injury was on a public street. Fifty-two per cent of patients were injured in more than one anatomical region, with the abdomen being the most common site of injury (53%). On hundred and seventy-four operations were performed - laparotomies (43%), thoracotomies (26%), craniotomies (5%) and orthopaedic, vascular, wound explorations and other procedures (26%). Twenty-eight per cent of patients suffered at least one complication during their admission, with coagulopathy being the most common complication (20%). Mean length of stay was 10.4 days (1-107 days). The total mortality rate for the severely injured patients was 21%, with gun-related injuries having a higher mortality rate than stabbing injury (36%vs 15%). Sixty per cent of deaths were related to exsanguination.


Stabbings and firearm trauma are associated with significant morbidity, mortality and utilization of hospital resources in metropolitan Sydney. Overall mortality rates are similar to institutions with higher volumes of penetrating trauma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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