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1.  A heuristic approach and heretic view on the technical issues and pitfalls in the management of penetrating abdominal injuries 
There is a general decline in penetrating abdominal trauma throughout the western world. As a result of that, there is a significant loss of expertise in dealing with this type of injury particularly when the patient presents to theatre with physiological instability. A significant percentage of these patients will not be operated by a trauma surgeon but, by the "occasional trauma surgeon", who is usually trained as a general surgeon. Most general surgeons have a general knowledge of operating penetrating trauma, knowledge originating from their training years and possibly enhanced by reading operative surgery textbooks. Unfortunately, the details included in most of these books are not extensive enough to provide them with enough armamentaria to tackle the difficult case. In this scenario, their operative dexterity and knowledge cannot be compared to that of their trauma surgeon colleagues, something that is taken for granted in the trauma textbooks. Techniques that are considered basic and easy by the trauma surgeons can be unfamiliar and difficult to general surgeons.
Knowing the danger points and pitfalls that will be encountered in penetrating trauma to the abdomen, will help the occasional trauma surgeons to avoid intraoperative errors and improve patient care. This manuscript provides a heuristic approach from surgeons working in a high volume penetrating trauma centers in South African. Some of the statements could be considered heretic by the "accepted" trauma literature. We believe that this heuristic ("rule of thumb" approach, that originating from "try and error" experience) can help surgical trainees or less experienced in penetrating trauma surgeons to improve their surgical decision making and technique, resulting in better patient outcome.
PMCID: PMC2912780  PMID: 20630100
2.  Military General Surgical Training Opportunities on Operations in Afghanistan 
In the UK, general surgical specialist trainees have limited exposure to general surgical trauma. Previous work has shown that trainees are involved in only two blunt and one penetrating trauma laparotomies per annum. During their training, nearly half of trainees will not be involved in the surgical management of liver injury, 20% will not undertake a trauma splenectomy and only a quarter will see a trauma thoracotomy. Military general surgical trainees require training in, and exposure to, the surgical management of trauma and specifically military wounding patterns that is not available in the UK. The objective of this study was to determine whether operative workload in the sole British surgical unit in Helmand Province, Afghanistan (Operation HERRICK) would provide a training opportunity for military general surgical trainees.
A retrospective theatre log-book review of all surgical cases performed at the Role 2 (Enhanced) treatment facility at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province on Operation HERRICK between October 2006 and October 2007, inclusive. Operative cases were analysed for general surgical trauma, laparotomy, thoracotomy, vascular trauma and specific organ injury management where available.
A total of 968 operative cases were performed during the study period. General surgical procedures included 51 laparotomies, 17 thoracotomies and 11 vascular repairs. There were a further 70 debridements of general surgical wounds. Specific organ management included five cases of liver packing for trauma, five trauma splenectomies and four nephrectomies.
A training opportunity currently exists on Operation HERRICK for military general surgical specialist trainees. If the tempo of the last 12 months is maintained, a 2-month deployment would essentially provide trainees with the equivalent trauma surgery experience to the whole of their surgical training in the UK NHS. Trainees would gain experience in military trauma as well as specific organ injury management.
PMCID: PMC2758444  PMID: 19622259
War injuries; Surgical training; Military surgery
3.  Has the Trauma Surgeon Become House Staff for the Surgical Subspecialist? 
American journal of surgery  2006;192(6):732-737.
The general surgeon’s growing disinterest in trauma is fueled by lack of surgical opportunity and high burden of non operative responsibilities. The majority of care provided by the trauma surgeon supports other procedure oriented specialties. This is a major deterrent surgeon participation in trauma care and must be addressed in the evolution of the Acute Care Surgeon.
The role of the trauma surgeon is perceived to be mostly supportive of other procedure oriented specialties. We designed this study to characterize the operative and nonoperative responsibilities of the contemporary trauma surgeon.
Trauma patients admitted to an urban academic Level I Trauma Center were studied using trauma registry data for 2004.
The large majority of patients admitted to trauma service have mild single system injuries to one or two anatomic regions. Most (57%) did not have injuries to the neck, chest, or abdomen. Head and extremity injuries were present in 45% and 46% of patients respectively. Operations were performed by orthopedists in 28%, trauma surgeons in 11% and neurosurgeons in 6% of patiets respectively.
The contemporary trauma surgeon has little operative opportunity and provides a disproportionate amount of nonoperative care in supportive of consultant specialists. This is a major deterrent to general surgeon interest in trauma care and must be addressed as the Acute Care Surgeon evolves.
PMCID: PMC2276667  PMID: 17161084
Trauma Surgeon; Acute Care Surgery; Emergency Surgeon
4.  An Economic Evaluation of Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis Strategies in Critically Ill Trauma Patients at Risk of Bleeding 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(6):e1000098.
Using decision analysis, Henry Stelfox and colleagues estimate the cost-effectiveness of three venous thromboembolism prophylaxis strategies in patients with severe traumatic injuries who were also at risk for bleeding complications.
Critically ill trauma patients with severe injuries are at high risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) and bleeding simultaneously. Currently, the optimal VTE prophylaxis strategy is unknown for trauma patients with a contraindication to pharmacological prophylaxis because of a risk of bleeding.
Methods and Findings
Using decision analysis, we estimated the cost effectiveness of three VTE prophylaxis strategies—pneumatic compression devices (PCDs) and expectant management alone, serial Doppler ultrasound (SDU) screening, and prophylactic insertion of a vena cava filter (VCF)—in trauma patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with severe injuries who were believed to have a contraindication to pharmacological prophylaxis for up to two weeks because of a risk of major bleeding. Data on the probability of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), and on the effectiveness of the prophylactic strategies, were taken from observational and randomized controlled studies. The probabilities of in-hospital death, ICU and hospital discharge rates, and resource use were taken from a population-based cohort of trauma patients with severe injuries (injury severity scores >12) admitted to the ICU of a regional trauma centre. The incidence of DVT at 12 weeks was similar for the PCD (14.9%) and SDU (15.0%) strategies, but higher for the VCF (25.7%) strategy. Conversely, the incidence of PE at 12 weeks was highest in the PCD strategy (2.9%), followed by the SDU (1.5%) and VCF (0.3%) strategies. Expected mortality and quality-adjusted life years were nearly identical for all three management strategies. Expected health care costs at 12 weeks were Can$55,831 for the PCD strategy, Can$55,334 for the SDU screening strategy, and Can$57,377 for the VCF strategy, with similar trends noted over a lifetime analysis.
The attributable mortality due to PE in trauma patients with severe injuries is low relative to other causes of mortality. Prophylactic placement of VCF in patients at high risk of VTE who cannot receive pharmacological prophylaxis is expensive and associated with an increased risk of DVT. Compared to the other strategies, SDU screening was associated with better clinical outcomes and lower costs.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
For patients who have been seriously injured in an accident or a violent attack (trauma patients), venous thromboembolism (VTE)—the formation of blood clots that limit the flow of blood through the veins—is a frequent and potentially fatal complication. The commonest form of VTE is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). “Distal” DVTs (clots that form in deep veins below the knee) affect about half of patients with severe trauma; “proximal” DVTs (clots that form above the knee) develop in one in five trauma patients. DVTs cause pain and swelling in the affected leg and can leave patients with a painful condition called post-thrombotic syndrome. Worse still, part of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs where it can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE). Distal DVTs rarely embolize but, if untreated, half of patients who present with a proximal DVT will develop a PE, and 2%–3% of them will die as a result.
Why Was This Study Done?
VTE is usually prevented by using heparin, a drug that stops blood clotting, but clinicians treating critically ill trauma patients have a dilemma. Many of these patients are at high risk of serious bleeding complications so cannot be given heparin to prevent VTE. Nonpharmacological ways to prevent VTE include the use of pneumatic compression devices to keep the blood moving in the legs (clots often form in patients confined to bed because of the sluggish blood flow in their legs), repeated screening for blood clots using Doppler ultrasound, and the insertion of a “vena cava filter” into the vein that takes blood from the legs to the heart. This last device catches blood clots before they reach the lungs but increases the risk of DVT. Unfortunately, no-one knows which VTE prevention strategy works best in trauma patients who cannot be given heparin. In this study, therefore, the researchers use decision analysis (the systematic evaluation of the most important factors affecting a decision) to estimate the costs and likely clinical outcomes of these strategies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used cost and clinical data from patients admitted to a Canadian trauma center with severe head/neck and/or abdomen/pelvis injuries (patients with a high risk of bleeding complications likely to make heparin therapy dangerous for up to two weeks after the injury) to construct a Markov decision analysis model. They then fed published data on the chances of patients developing DVT or PE, and on the effectiveness of the three VTE prevention strategies, into the model to obtain estimates of the costs and clinical outcomes of the strategies at 12 weeks after the injury and over the patients' lifetime. The estimated incidence of DVT at 12 weeks was 15% for the pneumatic compression device and Doppler ultrasound strategies, but 25% for the vena cava filter strategy. By contrast, the estimated incidence of PE was 2.9% with the pneumatic compression device, 1.5% with Doppler ultrasound, but only 0.3% with the vena cava filter. The expected mortality with all three strategies was similar. Finally, the estimated health care costs per patient at 12 weeks were Can$55,334 and Can$55,831 for the Doppler ultrasound and pneumatic compression device strategies, respectively, but Can$57,377 for the vena cava filter strategy; similar trends were seen for lifetime health care costs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all mathematical models, these findings depend on the data fed into the model and on the assumptions included in it. For example, because data from one Canadian trauma unit were used to construct the model, these findings may not be generalizable. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that, although VTE is common among patients with severe injuries, PE is not a major cause of death among these patients. They also suggest that the use of vena cava filters for VTE prevention in patients who cannot receive heparin should not be routinely used because it is expensive and increases the risk of DVT. Finally, these results suggest that, compared with the other strategies, serial Doppler ultrasound is associated with better clinical outcomes and lower costs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information (including an animation) on deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
MedlinePlus provides links to more information about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site has information on deep vein thrombosis and on embolism (in English and Spanish)
The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma working group document Practice Management Guidelines for the Management of Venous Thromboembolism in Trauma Patients can be downloaded from the Internet
PMCID: PMC2695771  PMID: 19554085
5.  Distribution of emergency operations and trauma in a Swedish hospital: need for reorganisation of acute surgical care? 
Subspecialisation within general surgery has today reached further than ever. However, on-call time, an unchanged need for broad surgical skills are required to meet the demands of acute surgical disease and trauma. The introduction of a new subspecialty in North America that deals solely with acute care surgery and trauma is an attempt to offer properly trained surgeons also during on-call time. To find out whether such a subspecialty could be helpful in Sweden we analyzed our workload for emergency surgery and trauma.
Linköping University Hospital serves a population of 257 000. Data from 2010 for all patients, diagnoses, times and types of operations, surgeons involved, duration of stay, types of injury and deaths regarding emergency procedures were extracted from a prospectively-collected database and analyzed.
There were 2362 admissions, 1559 emergency interventions; 835 were mainly abdominal operations, and 724 diagnostic or therapeutic endoscopies. Of the 1559 emergency interventions, 641 (41.1%) were made outside office hours, and of 453 minor or intermediate procedures (including appendicectomy, cholecystectomy, or proctological procedures) 276 (60.9%) were done during the evenings or at night. Two hundred and fifty-four patients were admitted with trauma and 29 (11.4%) required operation, of whom general surgeons operated on eight (3.1%). Thirteen consultants and 11 senior registrars were involved in 138 bowel resections and 164 cholecystectomies chosen as index operations for standard emergency surgery. The median (range) number of such operations done by each consultant was 6 (3–17) and 6 (1–22). Corresponding figures for senior registrars were 7 (0–11) and 8 (1–39).
There was an uneven distribution of exposure to acute surgical problems and trauma among general surgeons. Some were exposed to only a few standard emergency interventions and most surgeons did not operate on a single patient with trauma. Further centralization of trauma care, long-term positions at units for emergency surgery and trauma, and subspecialisation in the fields of emergency surgery and trauma, might be options to solve problems of low volumes.
PMCID: PMC3568729  PMID: 22985447
Acute care surgery; Trauma; Centralization; Subspecialisation
6.  Trauma care — a participant observer study of trauma centers at Delhi, Lucknow and Mumbai 
The Indian Journal of Surgery  2009;71(3):133-141.
Trained doctors and para-medical personnel in accident and emergency services are scant in India. Teaching and training in trauma and emergency medical system (EMS) as a specialty accredited by the Medical Council of India is yet to be started as a postgraduate medical education program. The MI and CMO (casualty medical officer) rooms at military and civilian hospitals in India that practice triage, first-aid, medico-legal formalities, reference and organize transport to respective departments leads to undue delays and lack multidisciplinary approach. Comprehensive trauma and emergency infrastructure were created only at a few cities and none in the rural areas of India in last few years.
To study the infrastructure, human resource allocation, working, future plans and vision of the established trauma centers at the 3 capital cities of India — Delhi (2 centres), Lucknow and Mumbai.
Setting and design
Participant observer structured open ended qualitative research by 7 days direct observation of the facilities and working of above trauma centers.
Material and methods
Information on, 1. Infrastructure; space and building, operating, ventilator, and diagnostic and blood bank facilities, finance and costs and pre-hospital care infrastructure, 2. Human resource; consultant and resident doctors, para-medical staff and specialists and 3. Work style; first responder, type of patients undertaken, burn management, surgical management and referral system, follow up patient management, social support, bereavement and postmortem services were recorded on a pre-structured open ended instrument interviewing the officials, staff and by direct observation. Data were compressed, peer-analyzed as for qualitative research and presented in explicit tables.
Union and state governments of Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have spent heavily to create trauma and emergency infrastructure in their capital cities. Mostly general and orthopedics surgeons with their resident staff were managing the facilities. Comprehensively trained accident and emergency (AandE) personnel were not available at any of the centers. Expert management of cardiac peri-arrest arrhythmias, peripheral and microvascular repair were occasionally available. Maxillo-facial, dental and prosthodontic facilities, evenomation grading and treatment of poisoning — anti venom were not integrated. Ventilators, anesthetist, neuro and plastic surgeons were available on call for emergency care at all the 4 centers. Emergency diagnostic radiology (X-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound) and pathology were available at all the 4 centers. On the spot blood bank and component blood therapy was available only at the Delhi centers. Pre-hospital care, though envisioned by the officials, was lacking. Comprehensively trained senior A and E personnel as first responders were unavailable. Double barrier nursing for burn victims was not witnessed. Laparoscopic and fibreoptic endoscopic emergency procedures were also available only at Delhi. Delay in treatment on account of incomplete medico-legal formalities was not seen. Social and legal assistance, bereavement service and cold room for dead body were universally absent. Free treatment at Delhi and partial financial support at Lucknow were available for poor and destitute.
Though a late start, evolution of trauma services was observed and huge infrastructure for trauma have come up at Delhi and Lucknow. Postgraduate accreditation in Trauma and EMS and creation of National Injury Control Program must be mandated to improve trauma care in India. Integration of medical, non traumatic surgical and pediatric emergency along with pre-hospital care is recommended.
PMCID: PMC3452474  PMID: 23133136
Trauma Care; India; Trauma Centers; Participant observer
7.  Trauma calls: role of the general surgeon and CT scanning 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2005;22(5):339-341.
Background and objective: General surgeons are required in only a minority of trauma call cases to assess for abdominal injuries. Computed tomography (CT) accurately detects blunt abdominal injuries and may have replaced the need for general surgeons at trauma calls. This study evaluated the role of general surgeons at trauma calls and assessed use of CT in cases of suspected abdominal trauma.
Methods: (a) Eighteen month analysis of trauma calls at a district general hospital and (b) three month prospective study of all trauma cases presenting to A&E.
Results: (a) There were 73 trauma calls and the mechanism of injury in most cases was a road traffic accident (RTA). Most patients had orthopaedic and/or neurosurgical injuries. The general surgeons assessed 22 trauma call patients. Abdominal injury was excluded in 13 (four by clinical examination and nine following CT). (b) Forty three patients fulfilled the criteria for a trauma call and 14 trauma calls were made. The mechanism of injury in most was RTA and most had orthopaedic and/or neurosurgical injuries. The general surgeons assessed 10/43 potential trauma call patients, and abdominal injury was excluded in five (one by clinical examination and four following CT).
Conclusion: A&E staff managed most trauma calls. Most patients did not require general surgical intervention. For penetrating injuries, presence of a general surgeon remained crucial. For blunt injuries CT was an important adjunct. These data suggest that general surgeons do not routinely have to attend all trauma calls but can be called if abdominal and/or vascular injuries are specifically suspected.
PMCID: PMC1726760  PMID: 15843701
8.  Initial evaluation of the "Trauma surgery course" 
The consequence of the low rate of penetrating injuries in Europe and the increase in non-operative management of blunt trauma is a decrease in surgeons' confidence in managing traumatic injuries has led to the need for new didactic tools. The aim of this retrospective study was to present the Corso di Chirurgia del Politrauma (Trauma Surgery Course), developed as a model for teaching operative trauma techniques, and assess its efficacy.
the two-day course consisted of theoretical lectures and practical experience on large-sized swine. Data of the first 126 participants were collected and analyzed.
All of the 126 general surgeons who had participated in the course judged it to be an efficient model to improve knowledge about the surgical treatment of trauma.
A two-day course, focusing on trauma surgery, with lectures and life-like operation situations, represents a model for simulated training and can be useful to improve surgeons' confidence in managing trauma patients. Cooperation between organizers of similar initiatives would be beneficial and could lead to standardizing and improving such courses.
PMCID: PMC1459266  PMID: 16759403
9.  Short- and long-term subjective medical treatment outcome of trauma surgery patients: the importance of physician empathy 
To investigate accident casualties’ long-term subjective evaluation of treatment outcome 6 weeks and 12 months after discharge and its relation to the experienced surgeon’s empathy during hospital treatment after trauma in consideration of patient-, injury-, and health-related factors. The long-term results are compared to the 6-week follow-up outcomes.
Patients and methods
Two hundred and seventeen surgery patients were surveyed at 6 weeks, and 206 patients at 12 months after discharge from the trauma surgical general ward. The subjective evaluation of medical treatment outcome was measured 6 weeks and 12 months after discharge with the respective scale from the Cologne Patient Questionnaire. Physician Empathy was assessed with the Consultation and Relational Empathy Measure. The correlation between physician empathy and control variables with the subjective evaluation of medical treatment outcome 12 months after discharge was identified by means of logistic regression analysis under control of sociodemographic and injury-related factors.
One hundred and thirty-six patients were included within the logistic regression analysis at the 12-month follow-up. Compared to the 6-week follow-up, the level of subjective evaluation of medical treatment outcome was slightly lower and the association with physician empathy was weaker. Compared to patients who rated the empathy of their surgeon lower than 31 points, patients with ratings of 41 points or higher had a 4.2-fold higher probability to be in the group with a better medical treatment outcome (3.5 and above) on the Cologne Patient Questionnaire scale 12 months after discharge from hospital (P=0.009, R2=33.5, 95% confidence interval: 1.440–12.629).
Physician empathy is the strongest predictor for a higher level of trauma patients’ subjective evaluation of treatment outcome 6 weeks and 12 months after discharge from the hospital. Interpersonal factors between surgeons and their patients are possible key levers for improving patient outcomes in an advanced health system. Communication trainings for surgeons might prepare them to react appropriately to their patients’ needs and lead to satisfactory outcomes for both parties.
PMCID: PMC4173813  PMID: 25258518
long-term outcome; patient-reported outcome; physician–patient interaction; communication; accident; trauma surgery; injury
10.  Comparing the results penetrating colon injuries based on intervention by surgeons with different levels of experience in West Indies 
Numerous studies have established the safety of primary repair for civilian penetrating colonic injuries with little data exploring the experience of surgeon performing the procedure. Owing to financial, staff and administrative constraints in the developing world, surgeons-in-training sometimes find themselves faced with having to perform major surgery for penetrating colonic injuries with no experienced surgeon in attendance, but available for advice via phone. With this thought, we collected retrospective data to analyse our outcomes based on this practice.
Materials and Methods:
Over a 10-year period 62 patients with penetrating colonic trauma underwent laparotomies with analysis done on 53 cases. Severity of injury, grade of operating surgical staff and outcome were noted. Outcomes of “inexperienced surgeons” and “experienced surgeons” were compared to determine if a difference exists in outcome based on experience or grade of surgeon.
A total of 53 patients with penetrating colon injures underwent primary repair and/or anastomosis with 18 (34%) performed by “inexperienced surgeons” and 35 (66%) by “experienced surgeons”. There was one death unrelated to colon trauma with an inexperienced surgeon and one anastomotic leak in a patient operated on by an experienced surgeon.
This data supports previous reports on the safety of primary repair for penetrating colonic injuries and raises the point that in cases of lower severity of injury inexperienced surgeons have similar results to experienced surgeons with regard to primary repair.
PMCID: PMC3162698  PMID: 21887019
Colon injury; penetrating colon injury; primary repair
11.  Abdominal injuries in a low trauma volume hospital - a descriptive study from northern Sweden 
Abdominal injuries occur relatively infrequently during trauma, and they rarely require surgical intervention. In this era of non-operative management of abdominal injuries, surgeons are seldom exposed to these patients. Consequently, surgeons may misinterpret the mechanism of injury, underestimate symptoms and radiologic findings, and delay definite treatment. Here, we determined the incidence, diagnosis, and treatment of traumatic abdominal injuries at our hospital to provide a basis for identifying potential hazards in non-operative management of patients with these injuries in a low trauma volume hospital.
This retrospective study included prehospital and in-hospital assessments of 110 patients that received 147 abdominal injuries from an isolated abdominal trauma (n = 70 patients) or during multiple trauma (n = 40 patients). Patients were primarily treated at the University Hospital of Umeå from January 2000 to December 2009.
The median New Injury Severity Score was 9 (range: 1–57) for 147 abdominal injuries. Most patients (94%) received computed tomography (CT), but only 38% of patients with multiple trauma were diagnosed with CT < 60 min after emergency room arrival. Penetrating trauma caused injuries in seven patients. Solid organ injuries constituted 78% of abdominal injuries. Non-operative management succeeded in 82 patients. Surgery was performed for 28 patients, either immediately (n = 17) as result of operative management or later (n = 11), due to non-operative management failure; the latter mainly occurred with hollow viscus injuries. Patients with multiple abdominal injuries, whether associated with multiple trauma or an isolated abdominal trauma, had significantly more non-operative failures than patients with a single abdominal injury. One death occurred within 30 days.
Non-operative management of patients with abdominal injuries, except for hollow viscus injuries, was highly successful in our low trauma volume hospital, even though surgeons receive low exposure to these patients. However, a growing proportion of surgeons lack experience in decision-making and performing trauma laparotomies. Quality assurance programmes must be emphasized to ensure future competence and quality of trauma care at low trauma volume hospitals.
PMCID: PMC4237946  PMID: 25124882
Abdominal injuries; Low trauma volume hospital; Non-operative management
12.  Developing and Organizing a Trauma System and Mass Casualty Management: Some Useful Observations from the Israeli Trauma Model 
A trauma system is a chain of arrangements and preparedness to provide quality response to injured from the site of injury to the appropriate hospital for the full range of care. Israel has a unique trauma system developed from the experience gained in peace and in war. The system is designed to fit the state's current health system, which is different from the European and American systems. An effective trauma system may potentially manage mass casualty incidence better. The aim of this paper is to discuss learning points to develop a trauma system based on the Israeli trauma model. After participating in a course on developing a trauma system organized by a top Israeli trauma center, a literature search on the topic on the Internet was done using relevant key words like trauma system and disaster management in Israel using the Google search engine in the pubmed, open access journals and websites of trauma organizations. Israel has a unique trauma system of organizing and managing an emergency event, characterized by a central national organization responsible for management, coordination and ongoing quality control. Because of its unique geopolitical situation, the armed forces has a significant role in the system. Investing adequate resources on continuous education, manpower training, motivation, team-work and creation of public volunteers through advocacy is important for capacity building to develop a trauma system. Wisdom, motivation and pragmatism of the Israeli model may be useful to streamline work in skeletal trauma services of developing countries having fewer resources to bring consistency and acceptable standards in trauma care.
PMCID: PMC3634231  PMID: 23634336
Disaster preparedness; Israeli trauma model; Mass casualty incidents; Trauma center; Trauma system
13.  Surgeons’ and Emergency Physicians’ Perceptions of Trauma Management and Training 
The study objective was to determine whether surgeons and emergency medicine physicians (EMPs) have differing opinions on trauma residency training and trauma management in clinical practice.
A survey was mailed to 250 EMPs and 250 surgeons randomly selected.
Fifty percent of surgeons perceived that surgery exclusively managed trauma compared to 27% of EMPs. Surgeons were more likely to feel that only surgeons should manage trauma on presentation to the ED. However, only 60% of surgeons currently felt comfortable with caring for the trauma patient, compared to 84% of EMPs. Compared to EMPs, surgeons are less likely to feel that EMPs can initially manage the trauma patient (71% of surgeons vs. 92% of EMPs).
EMPs are comfortable managing trauma while many surgeons do not feel comfortable with the complex trauma patient although the majority of surgeons responded that surgeons should manage the trauma.
PMCID: PMC2729212  PMID: 19718373
14.  Trauma and the acute care surgery model – should it embrace or replace general surgery? 
The specialties dealing with emergency medicine and emergency surgery are in need for a new roadmap. While the medical and surgical management of emergency conditions very often go hand-in-hand, issues relating to emergency and trauma surgery have particular concerns, which are global in magnitude. Obviously, choosing a career dealing (solely) with emergencies and trauma is associated with concerns related to lifestyle issues and, for surgeons, maintenance of adequate operative experience with the increased non-operative management. Also, dealing with patients' whose outcome may be dismal with high associated morbidity and mortality is often not viewed as rewarding. The global flux of medical students away from general surgical training and trauma surgery in particular is an example of how recruitment to specialties dealing with uncomfortable, unpredictable, and "out-of-office-hours" work may be in dire straits. How surgeons around the world will deal with this challenge will likely be diverse and tailored according to the needs of any given region, be it North America, Europe, or Scandinavia. However, refurnishing the training in General Surgery in order to ensure proper care for acute surgical illness and trauma appears mandated in order to keep in line with the centennial words of Halstead that "every important hospital should have on its resident staff of surgeons at least one who is well and able to deal with any emergency that may arise".
PMCID: PMC2646681  PMID: 19193218
15.  Penetrating arterial trauma to the limbs: outcome of a modified protocol 
Penetrating arterial injuries to the limbs are common injuries in high volume trauma centers. Their overall surgical results reported in the literature are satisfactory - apart of those of the popliteal artery that still may lead to a significant incidence in amputations. With the present study we assessed our outcome with penetrating arterial injuries to the limb as to see if the direct involvement of vascular surgeons in the management of popliteal artery injuries leads to an improved (lowered) amputation rate. Results were benchmarked with our published results from previous years.
All patients sustaining penetrating arterial injuries to the limbs admitted to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital during an 18- month period ending in September 2011 were included in this study. Axillary, brachial and femoral artery injuries were operated on by the trauma surgeons as in the past. All popliteal artery injuries were operated on by the vascular surgeons (new).
There were a total of 113 patients with 116 injuries, as some patients had multiple vascular injuries: 10 axillary, 47 brachial, 34 femoral and 25 popliteal artery injuries. Outcome of axillary, brachial and femoral artery injury repair were excellent and not significantly different from our previous reported experience. Injury to the popliteal artery showed a diminished re-exploration rate from 34% down to 10% (p = 0,049) and a decrease of amputation rate from 16% to 11% which was statistically not significant (p = 0,8).
Penetrating arterial trauma to the axillary, brachial and femoral artery is followed by excellent results when operated by trauma surgeons. In the case of popliteal artery injury operated by the vascular surgeons, the results of this study do not show any statistically significant difference related to amputation rate from our previous reported studies when operated by trauma surgeons. Taking into consideration the diminished re-exploration rate and a tendency to a lower amputation rate, we feel that there is possible tendency of better outcome if operated by vascular surgeons. Multicenter studies with large number of enrolled patients will be required to prove the validity of this suggestion.
PMCID: PMC4176145  PMID: 24305415
Popliteal artery; Penetrating trauma; Treatment protocol; Outcome; Amputation rate; Vascular repair; Vascular surgeon
16.  Severe traumatic injury during long duration spaceflight: Light years beyond ATLS 
Traumatic injury strikes unexpectedly among the healthiest members of the human population, and has been an inevitable companion of exploration throughout history. In space flight beyond the Earth's orbit, NASA considers trauma to be the highest level of concern regarding the probable incidence versus impact on mission and health. Because of limited resources, medical care will have to focus on the conditions most likely to occur, as well as those with the most significant impact on the crew and mission. Although the relative risk of disabling injuries is significantly higher than traumatic deaths on earth, either issue would have catastrophic implications during space flight. As a result this review focuses on serious life-threatening injuries during space flight as determined by a NASA consensus conference attended by experts in all aspects of injury and space flight.
In addition to discussing the impact of various mission profiles on the risk of injury, this manuscript outlines all issues relevant to trauma during space flight. These include the epidemiology of trauma, the pathophysiology of injury during weightlessness, pre-hospital issues, novel technologies, the concept of a space surgeon, appropriate training for a space physician, resuscitation of injured astronauts, hemorrhage control (cavitary and external), surgery in space (open and minimally invasive), postoperative care, vascular access, interventional radiology and pharmacology.
Given the risks and isolation inherent in long duration space flight, a well trained surgeon and/or surgical capability will be required onboard any exploration vessel. More specifically, a broadly-trained surgically capable emergency/critical care specialist with innate capabilities to problem-solve and improvise would be desirable. It will be the ultimate remote setting, and hopefully one in which the most advanced of our societies' technologies can be pre-positioned to safeguard precious astronaut lives. Like so many previous space-related technologies, these developments will also greatly improve terrestrial care on earth.
PMCID: PMC2667411  PMID: 19320976
17.  Trauma Center Staffing, Infrastructure, and Patient Characteristics that Influence Trauma Center Need 
The most effective use of trauma center resources helps reduce morbidity and mortality, while saving costs. Identifying critical infrastructure characteristics, patient characteristics and staffing components of a trauma center associated with the proportion of patients needing major trauma care will help planners create better systems for patient care.
We used the 2009 National Trauma Data Bank-Research Dataset to determine the proportion of critically injured patients requiring the resources of a trauma center within each Level I–IV trauma center (n=443). The outcome variable was defined as the portion of treated patients who were critically injured. We defined the need for critical trauma resources and interventions (“trauma center need”) as death prior to hospital discharge, admission to the intensive care unit, or admission to the operating room from the emergency department as a result of acute traumatic injury. Generalized Linear Modeling (GLM) was used to determine how hospital infrastructure, staffing Levels, and patient characteristics contributed to trauma center need.
Nonprofit Level I and II trauma centers were significantly associated with higher levels of trauma center need. Trauma centers that had a higher percentage of transferred patients or a lower percentage of insured patients were associated with a higher proportion of trauma center need. Hospital infrastructure characteristics, such as bed capacity and intensive care unit capacity, were not associated with trauma center need. A GLM for Level III and IV trauma centers showed that the number of trauma surgeons on staff was associated with trauma center need.
Because the proportion of trauma center need is predominantly influenced by hospital type, transfer frequency, and insurance status, it is important for administrators to consider patient population characteristics of the catchment area when planning the construction of new trauma centers or when coordinating care within state or regional trauma systems.
PMCID: PMC4307735
18.  What do trainees think about advanced trauma life support (ATLS)? 
Advanced trauma life support (ATLS) has become a desirable or even essential part of training for many surgeons and anaesthetists, but aspects of the ATLS course have attracted criticism. In the absence of published data on the views of trainees, this study sought their opinions in a structured questionnaire, which was completed by trainees in accident and emergency (A & E) (26), anaesthetic (82), general surgical (26), orthopaedic (42) and other (5) posts in different hospitals (response rate 66%). Of the trainees, 78% had done an ATLS course and, of these, 83% considered ATLS a 'major advantage' or 'essential' for practising their proposed specialty--100% for A & E, 94% for orthopaedics, 92% for general surgery, and 75% for anaesthetics. ATLS was considered a major curriculum vitae (CV) advantage by 94%, 85%, 50%, and 45%, respectively. Over 90% had positive attitudes towards ATLS, and 74% selected 'genuine improvement of management of trauma patients' as the most important reason for doing the course: 93% thought ATLS saved lives. Of the respondents, 83% thought that all existing consultants dealing with trauma patients should have done the course, and 41% thought it offered major advantages to doctors not involved in trauma. Funding problems for ATLS courses had been experienced by 14% trainees. This survey has shown that most trainees view ATLS positively. They believe that it provides genuine practical benefit for patients, and very few regard ATLS primarily as a career advantage or mandate.
PMCID: PMC2503502  PMID: 10932661
19.  Traumatic Infra-renal Aortic Dissection After a High-energy Trauma: A Case Report of a Primary Missed Diagnosis 
Orthopedic Reviews  2014;6(1):5031.
A traumatic infra-renal aortic dissection is a rare but life-threatening injury that follows deceleration injuries. The mechanism of blunt abdominal aortic injury involves both direct and indirect forces. The successful management of patients with traumatic injuries depends on a prompt suspicion of the injury and early diagnosis and therapy. Missed injuries in trauma patients are well-described phenomena and implementation of the ATLS® trauma schedule led to a decrease in the number of missed injuries, but trauma computed tomography (CT) scans in injured patients are still not standard. We report on a 54-year old Caucasian female patient who was involved in a car accident. The fellow passenger of the car was seriously injured. The patient had been previously treated at two different hospitals, and a dislocated acetabular fracture had been diagnosed. Because of this injury, the patient was transferred to our institution, a level 1 trauma-center where, according to the nature of the accident as a high-energy trauma, a complete polytrauma management was performed at the time of admission. During the body check, a moderate tension of the lower parts of the abdomen was detected. During the CT scan, an aneurysm of the infra-renal aorta with a dissection from the height of the second lumbar vertebral body to the iliac artery was observed. The patient required an operation on the day of admission. After 19 days post-trauma care the patient was able to leave our hospital in good general condition. Therefore, missed injuries in multiple injury patients could be fatal, and it is essential that the orthopedic surgeon leaves room for suspicion of injuries based on the nature of the trauma. Traumatic injuries of the abdominal aorta are rare. According to the ATLS® trauma schedule, all of the patients who have experienced high-energy trauma and associated fractures should undergo routine screening using a trauma CT scan with contrast agents to detect potential life-threatening injuries. In case of abdominal trauma, an aortic dissection, which can easily be overlooked, has to be considered.
PMCID: PMC3980151  PMID: 24744835
traumatic aortic dissection; missed injury; high-energy trauma; computed tomography scan
20.  Norwegian trauma care: a national cross-sectional survey of all hospitals involved in the management of major trauma patients 
Approximately 10% of the Norwegian population is injured every year, with injuries ranging from minor injuries treated by general practitioners to major and complex injuries requiring specialist in-hospital care. There is a lack of knowledge concerning the caseload of potentially severely injured patients in Norwegian hospitals. Aim of the study was to describe the current status of the Norwegian trauma system by identifying the number and the distribution of contributing hospitals and the caseload of potentially severely injured trauma patients within these hospitals.
A cross-sectional survey with a structured questionnaire was sent in the summer of 2012 to all Norwegian hospitals that receive trauma patients. These were defined by number of trauma team activations in the included hospitals. A literature review was performed to assess over time the development of hospitals receiving trauma patients.
Forty-one hospitals responded and were included in the study. In 2011, four trauma centres and 37 acute care hospitals received a total of 6,570 trauma patients. Trauma centres received 2,175 (33%) patients and other hospitals received 4,395 (67%) patients. There were significant regional differences between health care regions in the distribution of trauma patients between trauma centres and acute care hospitals. More than half (52.5%) of the hospitals received fewer than 100 patients annually. The national rate of hospital admission via trauma teams was 13 per 10,000 inhabitants. There was a 37% (from 65 to 41) reduction in the number of hospitals receiving trauma patients between 1988 and 2011.
In 2011, hospital acute trauma care in Norway was delivered by four trauma centres and 37 acute care hospitals. Many hospitals still receive a small number of potentially severely injured patients and only a few hospitals have an electronic trauma registry. Future development of the Norwegian trauma system needs to address the challenge posed by a scattered population and long geographical distances. The implementation of a trauma system, carefully balanced between centres with adequate caseloads against time from injury to hospital care, is needed and has been shown to have a beneficial effect in countries with comparable challenges.
PMCID: PMC4237744  PMID: 25388400
Epidemiology; Injury; Norway; Trauma; Trauma system
21.  Preliminary analysis of the care of injured patients in 33 British hospitals: first report of the United Kingdom major trauma outcome study. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1992;305(6856):737-740.
OBJECTIVE--To measure the effectiveness of management of major trauma in the United Kingdom. DESIGN--Review of the care of all seriously injured patients seen over two years. SETTING--33 hospitals which receive patients who have sustained major trauma. SUBJECTS--14,648 injured patients admitted for more than three days, transferred or admitted into an intensive care bed, or dying from their injuries. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Death or survival in hospital within three months of the injury. RESULTS--21% of seriously injured patients (1299) took longer than one hour to reach hospital. Time before arrival at hospital was not related to severity of injury. A senior house officer was in charge of initial hospital resuscitation in 57% (826/1445) of patients with an injury severity score > or = 16. More senior staff were commonly responsible for definitive operations, but only 46% (165/355) of patients judged to require early operation arrived in theatre within two hours. Mortality for 6111 patients sustaining blunt trauma and treated in the 14 busiest hospitals was significantly higher (actual 408, predicted 295.6, p < 0.001) than in a comparable North American dataset. Large differences in the 14 hospitals assessed could not be explained by variations in case load or facilities. In contrast, the outcome of the 4.1% (597) of patients with penetrating injuries was better than that of a comparable group in the United States. Analysis of the 415 penetrating injuries with complete data showed that 15 patients died (19.3 predicted; p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS--The initial management of major trauma in the United Kingdom remains unsatisfactory. There are delays in providing experienced staff and timely operations. Mortality varies inexplicably between hospitals and, for blunt trauma, is generally higher than in the United States.
PMCID: PMC1883432  PMID: 1422327
22.  Surgical telepresence: the usability of a robotic communication platform 
The benefits of telepresence in trauma and acute surgical care exist, yet its use in a live, operating room (OR) setting with real surgical cases remains limited.
We tested the use of a robotic telepresence system in the OR of a busy, level 1 trauma center. After each case, both the local and remote physicians completed questionnaires regarding the use of the system using a five point Likert scale. For trauma cases, physicians were asked to grade injury severity according to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) Scaling System.
We collected prospective, observational data on 50 emergent and elective cases. 64% of cases were emergency surgery on trauma patients, almost evenly distributed between penetrating (49%) and blunt injuries (51%). 40% of non-trauma cases were hernia-related. A varied distribution of injuries was observed to the abdomen, chest, extremities, small bowel, kidneys, spleen, and colon. Physicians gave the system high ratings for its audio and visual capabilities, but identified internet connectivity and crowding in the operating room as potential challenges. The loccal clinician classified injuries according to the AAST injury grading system in 63% (n=22) of trauma cases, compared to 54% (n=19) of cases by the remote physicians. The remote physician cited obstruction of view as the main reason for the discrepancy. 94% of remote physicians and 74% of local physicians felt comfortable communicating via the telepresence system. For 90% of cases, both the remote and local physicians strongly agreed that a telepresence system for consultations in the OR is more effective than a telephone conversation.
A telepresence system was tested on a variety of surgical cases and demonstrated that it can be an appropriate solution for use in the operating room. Future research should determine its impact on processes of care and surgical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3424965  PMID: 23566595
23.  Selective Nonoperative Management of Abdominal Injuries in Polytrauma Patients: a Protocol only for Experienced Trauma Centers 
Mædica  2014;9(2):168-172.
Nowadays we are facing a steep increase in non-operative management throughout the injured body areas, with a continuous increase in the injuries' grade.
To evaluate the safety and applicability of non-operative management in major trauma patients.
Prospective observational study, in a level I trauma center, during 30 months. Inclusion criteria: major trauma patients with abdominal visceral lesions.
There were 207 major trauma patients whose average age was 35.8 ± 17.2 years, male being 69.6%. The most severe abdominal injuries were in the spleen (32.9%), the liver (19.2%) and the small bowel (11.6%). For the spleen lesions, the non-operative management was successful in 57.9% cases , with a failure rate of 11.6%. Non operative management was successful in 50% of liver injuries, its rate of success being independent of the hepatic injury grade.
Selective non operative management of abdominal visceral injuries is safe and effective in major trauma patients. Nevertheless, we should stress that this type of protocol should be applied only by highly trained surgeons, able to early convert this management to difficult surgical strategies.
PMCID: PMC4296760
trauma; non-operative management; polytrauma; abdominal injuries
24.  Access related complications in anterior lumbar surgery performed by spinal surgeons 
European Spine Journal  2012;22(Suppl 1):16-20.
Anterior lumbar surgery is a common procedure for anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) and artificial disc replacement (ADR). Our aim was to study the exposure related complications for anterior lumbar spinal surgery performed by spinal surgeons.
A retrospective review was performed for 304 consecutive patients who underwent anterior lumbar spinal surgery over 10 years (2001–2010) at our institution. Each patient’s records were reviewed for patients’ demographics, diagnosis, level(s) of surgery, procedure and complications related to access surgery. Patients undergoing anterior lumbar access for tumour resection, infection, trauma and revision surgeries were excluded.
All patients underwent an anterior paramedian retroperitoneal approach from the left side. The mean age of patients was 43 years (10–73; 197 males, 107 females). Indications for surgery were degenerative disc disease (DDD 255), degenerative spondylolisthesis (23), scoliosis (18), iatrogenic spondylolisthesis (5) and pseudoarthrosis (3). The procedures performed were single level surgery—L5/S1 (n = 147), L4/5 (n = 62), L3/4 (n = 7); two levels—L4/5 and L5/S1 (n = 74), L3/4 and L4/5 (n = 4); three levels—L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1 (n = 5); four levels—L2/3, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1 (n = 5). The operative procedures were single level ADR (n = 131), a single level ALIF (n = 87) with or without posterior fusion, two levels ALIF (n = 54), two levels ADR (n = 14), a combination of ADR/ALIF (n = 10), three levels ALIF (n = 1), three levels ADR/ALIF/ALIF (n = 1), ADR/ADR/ALIF (n = 2), four levels ALIF (n = 1) and finally 3 patients underwent a four level ADR/ADR/ALIF/ALIF. The overall complication rate was 61/304 (20 %). This included major complications (6.2 %)—venous injury requiring suture repair (n = 14, 4.6 %) and arterial injury (n = 5 [1.6 %], 3 repaired, 2 thrombolysed). Minor complications (13.8 %) included venous injury managed without repair (n = 5, 1.6 %), infection (n = 13, 4.3 %), incidental peritoneal opening (n = 12, 3.9 %), leg oedema (n = 2, 0.6 %) and others (n = 10, 3.3 %). We had no cases of retrograde ejaculation.
We report a very thorough and critical review of our anterior lumbar access surgeries performed mostly for DDD and spondylolisthesis at L4/5 and L5/S1 levels. Vascular problems of any type (24/304, 7.8 %) were the most common complication during this approach. The incidence of major venous injury requiring repair was 14/304 (4.6 %) and arterial injury 5/304 (1.6 %). The requirement for a vascular surgeon with the vascular injury was 9/304 (3 %; 5 arterial injuries; 4 venous injuries). This also suggests that the majority of the major venous injuries were repaired by the spinal surgeon (10/14, 71 %). Our results are comparable to other studies and support the notion that anterior access surgery to the lumbar spine can be performed safely by spinal surgeons. With adequate training, spinal surgeons are capable of performing this approach without direct vascular support, but they should be available if required.
PMCID: PMC3578511  PMID: 23250515
Anterior lumbar; Vascular injury; Complications
25.  ACGME case logs: Surgery resident experience in operative trauma for two decades 
Surgery resident education is based on experiential training, which is influenced by changes in clinical management strategies, technical and technologic advances, and administrative regulations. Trauma care has been exposed to each of these factors, prompting concerns about resident experience in operative trauma. The current study analyzed the reported volume of operative trauma for the last two decades; to our knowledge, this is the first evaluation of nationwide trends during such an extended time line.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) database of operative logs was queried from academic year (AY) 1989–1990 to 2009–2010 to identify shifts in trauma operative experience. Annual case log data for each cohort of graduating surgery residents were combined into approximately 5-year blocks, designated Period I (AY1989–1990 to AY1993–1994), Period II (AY1994–1995 to AY1998–1999), Period III (AY1999–2000 to AY2002–2003), and Period IV (AY2003–2004 to AY2009–2010). The latter two periods were delineated by the year in which duty hour restrictions were implemented.
Overall general surgery caseload increased from Period I to Period II (p < 0.001), remained stable from Period II to Period III, and decreased from Period III to Period IV (p < 0.001). However, for ACGME-designated trauma cases, there were significant declines from Period I to Period II (75.5 vs. 54.5 cases, p < 0.001) and Period II to Period III (54.5 vs. 39.3 cases, p < 0.001) but no difference between Period III and Period IV (39.3 vs. 39.4 cases). Graduating residents in Period I performed, on average, 31 intra-abdominal trauma operations, including approximately five spleen and four liver operations. Residents in Period IV performed 17 intra-abdominal trauma operations, including three spleen and approximately two liver operations.
Recent general surgery trainees perform fewer trauma operations than previous trainees. The majority of this decline occurred before implementation of work-hour restrictions. Although these changes reflect concurrent changes in management of trauma, surgical educators must meet the challenge of training residents in procedures less frequently performed.
Epidemiologic study, level III; therapeutic study, level IV.
PMCID: PMC4237587  PMID: 23188243
Surgical residents; trauma; ACGME; resident work-hour restrictions; education

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