Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am Surg. 1994 Jul;60(7):516-20; discussion 520-1.

Limited utility of emergency department thoracotomy.

Author information

  • 1Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis-East Bay, Oakland 94602.


To assess the therapeutic role and cost effectiveness of resuscitative thoracotomy in an urban trauma center, a retrospective review of thoracotomies (n = 273) performed in a trauma unit between 1986 and 1992 was undertaken. A total of 252 thoracotomies were performed for penetrating injuries (92%), and 21 (8%) were performed for blunt trauma. Ten neurologically intact survivors (3.7%) were identified. Mechanisms of injury in survivors were stab wound (n = 6) and gunshot wound (n = 4). There were no neurologically intact survivors when resuscitative thoracotomy was done for blunt trauma. All survivors sustained penetrating truncal injuries; isolated thoracic injuries existed in six patients, while four patients presented with both thoracic and abdominal wounds. All survivors had signs of life either in the field or in the trauma unit. Of the 242 non-survivors who had sustained penetrating trauma, only 49 had signs of life either in the field or upon arrival at the trauma unit. In this group, survival was 17 per cent. Revised Trauma Scores, calculated in the trauma unit, failed to differentiate between survivors and nonsurvivors. In 1992, the average hospital charge for resuscitative thoracotomy was $3413 per patient. Total charges during the study period for resuscitative thoracotomy were approximately $932,000. This represents an expenditure of $93,000 per successful thoracotomy. If thoracotomy was limited to patients sustaining penetrating trauma who demonstrated signs of life, total charges would be approximately $201,367, representing an expenditure of $20,137 per successful thoracotomy.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk