Introduction: Emergency department thoracotomy is an established procedure for cardiac arrest in patients suffering from penetrating thoracic trauma and yields relatively high survival rates (up to 21%) in patients with cardiac tamponade. To minimize the delay between arrest and thoracotomy, some have advocated thoracotomy on the accident scene. The aim of this study was to determine the proportion of patients with return of spontaneous circulation and subsequent survival after out of hospital thoracotomy in the Netherlands. Methods: A retrospective analysis of data collected on all out of hospital thoracotomies performed in the Netherlands after penetrating trauma between April 1st, 2011 and September 30th, 2016 was performed. Data on patient characteristics, trauma mechanism and outcome were collected and analyzed. Primary outcome measure was return of spontaneous circulation after the intervention. Survival to hospital discharge was the secondary outcome variable. Results: Thirty-three prehospital emergency thoracotomies were performed. Ten patients (30%) had gunshot wounds and 23 patients (70%) had stab wounds. Nine patients (27%) had return of spontaneous circulation and were presented to the hospital. Of these, one patient survived until discharge without neurological damage. Five died in the emergency department or operating room and three died in ICU. Conclusion: Return of spontaneous circulation after out of hospital thoracotomy for cardiac arrest due to penetrating thoracic injury is achievable, but a substantial number of patients die during the in hospital resuscitation phase. However, neurologic intact survival can be achieved.

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Keywords Helicopter emergency medical service, Penetrating injury, Pre-hospital care, Trauma resuscitation
Persistent URL,
Series Surgery and Traumatology
Journal Injury: International Journal of the Care of the Injured
van Vledder, M.G, van Waes, O.J.F, Kooij, F.O. (Fabian O.), Peters, J.H. (Joost H.), van Lieshout, E.M.M, & Verhofstad, M.H.J. (2017). Out of hospital thoracotomy for cardiac arrest after penetrating thoracic trauma. Injury: International Journal of the Care of the Injured. doi:10.1016/j.injury.2017.04.002