Background: Resuscitative thoracotomy performed in the emergency department (EDT) continues to have clear indications in patients sustaining trauma to the torso, particularly penetrating injuries. However, adjunctive use of aortic cross-clamping during EDT for hemorrhagic shock also may be useful in the acute resuscitation of patient with nontorso injuries (NTI). We questioned the utility of EDT in patients with nontorso trauma. Methods: Patients undergoing EDT have been prospectively followed since 1977 at our regional level I trauma center. Results: During the 26-year study period, 959 patients underwent EDT; 27 (3%) of these patients underwent EDT for penetrating NTI. Three (11%) of these patients survived to leave the hospital, with only 1 patient sustaining mild neurologic deficit. The mechanism of injury in the survivors was stab wound to the neck (1), gunshot wound to the neck (1), and extremity vascular injury (1). All survivors of EDT for NTI underwent prehospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation and successful endotracheal intubation in the field. There were no survivors of EDT for penetrating injury to the head. Conclusions: Resuscitative EDT with aortic cross-clamping is a potential adjunct in the acute resuscitation of NTI involving penetrating neck or extremity vascular injuries.
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