Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 14-17

A national study of emergency thoracotomy for trauma

1 Department of Emergency Medicine; Department of Anesthesiology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA
2 Adult and Child Center for Outcomes Research and Dissemination Science, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA
3 Department of Surgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA
4 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Adit A Ginde
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 12401 East 17th Avenue, Campus Box B215, Aurora
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JETS.JETS_93_20

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Introduction: The role of resuscitative thoracotomy in the emergency department (ED) for patients that have suffered severe thoracoabdominal trauma has been the subject of much debate. Most studies that characterize emergency thoracotomy are from urban, academic, and trauma centers. We sought to describe patient and hospital characteristics of a nationally representative sample of ED thoracotomy (EDT). Methods: The health-care cost and utilization project 2013 National ED Sample (NEDS) and the 2013 National Inpatient Sample (NIS) maintained by the agency for health-care research and quality were used to generate a nationally representative estimate of resuscitative thoracotomies performed in the ED. We obtained patient demographics and clinical characteristics and compared the descriptive statistics of the two datasets. Results: The NEDS dataset identified 124 unsuccessful EDTs, whereas the NIS dataset identified 77 admissions for thoracotomy. When weighted to create a national estimate, these represent 952 emergency thoracotomies performed in the US in 2013. Most were male (82.5% and 88.2% in NEDS and NIS, respectively). In addition, 32.9% and 36.4% in NEDS and NIS, respectively, were between the ages of 20 and 29. The majority of thoracotomies were performed at metropolitan teaching hospitals (64.2% and 75.3%, NEDS and NIS, respectively). The mean total ED charges for patients who had an unsuccessful thoracotomy were $32,664 and the mean total inpatient charges were $141,215. Conclusion: Nearly 1000 thoracotomies are performed annually on the day of presentation to U. S. hospitals. Although emergency thoracotomy for trauma is an infrequently performed procedure, it almost always occurs at an urban, high volume, and level I or level II trauma centers.

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