Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 70-73

Seat belt-related injuries: A surgical perspective


1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Huddersfield, UK
2 Department of General Surgery, York District General Hospital, York, UK

Correspondence Address:
Tahir Masudi
Department of Emergency Medicine, Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Huddersfield
UK
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0974-2700.201590

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Introduction: Legislation making seatbelt use mandatory is considered to have reduced fatal and serious injuries by 25%, with UK government estimates predicting more than 50,000 lives saved since its introduction. However, whilst the widespread use of seatbelts has reduced the incidence of major traumatic injury and death from road-traffic collisions (RTCs), their use has also heralded a range of different injuries. The first ever seatbelt related injury was described in 1956, and since then clear patterns of seatbelt-related injuries have been recognised. Methodology and Findings: This review of the published literature demonstrates that the combination of airbags and three-point seatbelts renders no part of the body free from injury. Serious injuries can, and do, occur even when passengers are properly restrained and attending clinicians should have a high index of suspicion for overt or covert intra-abdominal injuries when patients involved in RTCs attend the Emergency Department. Bruising to the trunk and abdomen in a seatbelt distribution is an obvious sign that suggests an increased risk of abdominal and thoracic injury, but bruising may not be apparent and its absence should not be falsely reassuring. A high index of suspicion should be retained for other subtler signs of injury. Children and pregnant women represent high-risk groups who are particularly vulnerable to injuries. Conclusion: In this review we highlight the common patterns of seatbelt-related injuries. A greater awareness of the type of injuries caused by seatbelt use will help clinicians to identify and treat overt and covert injuries earlier, and help reduce the rates of morbidity and mortality following RTCs.


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