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Unfallchirurg. 1995 Dec;98(12):609-13.

[Injury pattern after fall from great height. An analysis of 101 cases].

[Article in German]

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Chirurgische Universitätsklinik und Poliklinik, Berufsgenossenschaftliche Kliniken, Bergmannsheil, Bochum.


There are few references discussing the typical injury patterns of adults after a fall from a height. We present the pattern of injury in 101 adult patients who were treated between 1987 and 1990 at our trauma center after falling from an average height of 7.2 m. In 62 patients the fall was accidental; 39 patients tried to commit suicide by jumping from a height. The most common injuries were fractures of the thoracic and lumbar spine (83.0%) with a preference for the thoracolumbar junction. Fracture of the lower limbs occurred in 45%. The most frequent injuries were fractures of the os calcis (64.4%) and the ankle joint (26.6%). Twenty-five percent of all patients suffered from fractures in the upper limbs with a preference for the distal radius (56.6%) and the elbow (44.0%). There were no differences between the injury patterns after a fall from a height of more than 7 m or less than 7 m. The incidence of thoracic and pelvic injuries (30.0%) increased after falls from more than 7 m. The neurological complications of injuries to the spine corresponded to increasing height. According to our analysis blunt abdominal trauma is an uncommon injury after falling from a great height. Head injuries, which would be expected to be the most common cause of death in all non-survivors in the literature, only occurred in 27% of our patients who all survived their transport to hospital.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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