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Przegl Lek. 2000;57 Suppl 5:118-9.

Life saving surgery in polytrauma patients.


Life saving surgery is the surgery which has to be performed during the acute or reanimation period (1 to 3 h) and during the primary or stabilisation period (first day surgery). During the reanimation period lifethreatening conditions are identified and management is begun simultaneously. Many trauma surgeons talk about the first "golden hours" as the time interval starting immediately after the injury when rapid intervention will save lives and a lack of intervention will result in life loss. Most common, these critical conditions are exsanguinating hemorrhage, acute pump failure, obstruction of airways, mechanical failure of ventilation or severe brain damage with tentorial herniation. During this period, the following acts are necessary: surgical access to live support systems (airway, veins), life saving decompression of body cavities, resuscitative thoracotomy, control of exsanguinating external hemorrhage and control of exsanguinating hemorrhage into the body cavities. The primary or stabilisation period starts when vital functions stabilise. This period consists of further diagnostic procedures and treatment of injuries that are not directly life-threatening, but which may become life endangering or severely disabling if not treated promptly. The priorities of the surgical treatment are: brain injuries, eye- and facial injuries, progressive compression of the spinal cord, visceral injuries, musculoskeletal injuries. By improving prehospital care, rapid transport and last but not least immediate life saving surgical treatment preventable deaths can be reduced from 20-30% to 2-9% (5).

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