Analysis of 203 Patients with Penetrating Neck Injuries
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Selective nonoperative management (SNOM) of penetrating neck injuries (PNI) has steadily gained favor, but indications for surgery and adjunctive diagnostic studies remain debated. The purpose of the present study is to validate a protocol of SNOM of PNI based on physical examination, which further dictates complementary investigations and management.
Patients and methods
A prospective observational study was conducted in a South African tertiary urban trauma center with a high prevalence of penetrating trauma. All consecutive patients admitted with penetrating neck injuries over a 13-month period were included.
A total of 203 patients were included in the study: 159 with stab wounds and 42 with gunshot wounds. A vascular injury was identified in 27 (13.3%) patients, pharyngoesophageal injury in 18 (8.9%) patients, and an upper airway injury in 8 (3.9%) patients. Only 25 (12.3%) patients required surgical intervention. A further 8 (3.9%) patients had therapeutic endovascular procedures. The remaining 158 (77.8%) patients, either asymptomatic or with negative work-up, were managed expectantly. There were no clinically relevant missed injuries.
Selective nonoperative management of neck injuries based on clinical examination and selective use of adjunctive investigational studies is safe in a high-volume trauma center.
KeywordsStab Wound Neck Exploration Esophageal Injury Airway Injury Tracheal Injury
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