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Management of penetrating stab wounds of the chest: an assessment of the indications for early operation.
  1. F A Sandrasagra


    Haemothorax, haemopneumothorax, and pneumothorax were the most common complications in 85 patients with penetrating stab injuries of the chest. These complications were amenable to conservative treatment by aspiration or drainage of the pleural space. Immediate operation was indicated in 30 cases. Indications for surgery were haemorrhage from a major systemic or pulmonary vessel or the heart, cardiac tamponade, diaphragmatic penetration, oesophageal and bronchial tears, and sucking chest wounds. The need for immediate operation was clinically obvious at presentation in most cases. It should have been suspected from the situation of the entry wound, the nature of the weapon used, the size of the haemothorax, and the clinical findings in the others. All 11 deaths occurred in that group in which early operation was indicated, and some could have been averted had the need for operation been suspected early. Seven patients developed an empyema; five were in the group that required immediate surgery and in the other two infection occurred in a clotted haemothorax. Early repair of the associated visceral injuries and complete evacuation of a haemothorax, either fluid or clotted, could reduce the incidence of empyema.

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