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J Trauma. 2000 Apr;48(4):740-4.

Mechanisms and patterns of injuries related to large animals.

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Department of Surgery, East Texas Medical Center, Tyler, USA.



Injuries from encounters with large animals represent a significant health risk for rural communities. We evaluated our regional trauma centers' experience with large-animal injuries to determine whether certain mechanisms and patterns of injury predicted either major head/craniofacial or torso (chest/abdomen/pelvis) trauma.


The hospital courses of 145 patients with injuries related to large animals were reviewed retrospectively to determine patterns of injury, specific injury mechanisms, species-specific injuries, and predictors of multiple body region trauma.


Seventy-nine patients (55%) were injured by horses, 47 patients (32%) by bulls, 16 patients (11%) by cows, and 3 patients (2%) by wild animal attacks. The predominant species-specific mechanisms of injury were falls (horses), tramplings (bulls), and kicks (cows). Brain/craniofacial injuries were most common from horse-related encounters (32%), whereas bull and cow encounters usually resulted in torso injuries (45% and 56%, respectively). Multiple body region injuries occurred in 32% of patients. Fractures of the upper extremities were more often associated with torso and head/craniofacial injuries (48%) than lower extremity injuries (17%) (p = 0.02).


Large animal injuries frequently involve multiple body regions with species-specific mechanisms. Upper extremity injuries are associated with a significantly higher percentage of torso and head/craniofacial injuries, which may have implications for field triage.

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