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October 1990

Treatment of Traumatic Rupture of the Thoracic Aorta: A 15-Year Experience

Author Affiliations

From the Divisions of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Trauma, Department of Surgery, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle.

Arch Surg. 1990;125(10):1351-1356. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1990.01410220135019

• Traumatic rupture of the thoracic aorta is increasing in incidence and remains a highly lethal injury. The morbidity associated with this injury also remains high. We retrospectively reviewed the records of all patients admitted to our emergency department with ruptured thoracic aortas during a 15-year period to determine the reason for this persistently high morbidity and mortality and to identify any factors that might improve the outcome. We found that patients who are in unstable condition on arrival in the emergency department or who become unstable before reaching the operating room are not likely to survive. Patients who are injured in automobile accidents have a greater chance of survival than do those injured in motorcycle accidents or car-pedestrian accidents. Patients who are in hemodynamically stable condition after aortic injury survive only if diagnosis and treatment are prompt. Major complications of repair following thoracic aortic injury relate primarily to the length of cross-clamp time, and every effort should be devoted to keeping the cross-clamp time less than 30 minutes.

(Arch Surg. 1990;125:1351-1356)