Original Communications| Volume 128, ISSUE 1, P54-58, July 2000

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Transmediastinal gunshot injuries


      Background: Transmediastinal gunshot injuries are a rarely reported injury. Until recently, assessment of the thoracic aorta by angiography preceded the investigation of the esophagus. This order has been recently debated. Methods: There were 118 patients with potential transmediastinal injuries included in this retrospective study. Unstable patients who were unresponsive to resuscitation were taken to the operating room without previous investigation. Stable patients were routinely investigated initially for injury of the aorta and then for injury of the esophagus. Results: There were 51 patients who underwent urgent thoracotomy/sternotomy. In 27, the hemorrhage was of mediastinal origin; 17 of these patients died of intraoperative bleeding. Eight of the patients had aortic injury, and only one of this group survived. There were 57 stable patients who were investigated initially for injury of the aorta by angiography. It was positive in only one patient who underwent an operation with good results. An investigation of the esophagus followed and revealed esophageal injury in 17 patients. All of them were treated operatively, 15 of them with satisfactory outcome. Conclusions: Angiography should at present precede esophageal investigations. There is a need for shortening the time between admission and operation. Other modalities that could expedite the investigation of the thoracic aorta and the esophagus should be prospectively evaluated in multi-center studies. (Surgery 2000;128:54-8.)
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