The selective conservative management of penetrating thoracic trauma is still appropriate in the current era.
Kong VY., Sartorius B., Clarke DL.
<h4>Introduction</h4>Traumatic pleural collections secondary to penetrating chest trauma are generally managed by intercostal chest drainage (ICD), but these protocols were developed a few decades ago when stabs (SWs) predominated over gunshot wounds (GSWs). This study reviews the outcome of a selective conservative approach to penetrating thoracic trauma to establish if it is still appropriate in the current era.<h4>Materials and methods</h4>We reviewed 827 patients over a four-year period with penetrating unilateral non-cardiac wounds of the chest in order to review the efficacy of our policy and to define the differences in the spectrum of injury between SWs and GSWs.<h4>Results</h4>Ninety-two per cent (764/827) were males, and the median age was 24 years. Seventy-six per cent (625/827) sustained SWs and twenty-four per cent (202/827) GSWs. Chest pathologies were: pneumothorax (PTX): 362 (44%), haemothorax (HTX): 150 (18%) and haemopneumothorax (HPTX): 315 (38%). Ninety-six per cent of patients were managed non-operatively. Four per cent (36/827) were subjected to a thoracotomy [31 SWs and 5 GSWs]. No difference was observed in terms of the need for operative intervention: 5% vs. 3% [p=0.202]. PTX was seen exclusively in SWs: 58% vs. 0% and there were significantly more HPTXs seen in the GSWs: HPTX: 24% vs. 81% [p<0.001]. The median days of ICD in situ were significantly longer in GSWs compared to SWs for all pathologies. For HTX: 4.5 (interquartile range [IQR]: 3-6) vs. 3.5 (IQR: 0-5) days, p=0.001 and HPTX: 4 (IQR: 3-5) vs. 3.0 (IQR: 3-4) days, p<0.001. There were seven (15%) complications. A total of five (13%) patients died and all deaths were confined to the operative group.<h4>Conclusions</h4>SWs continue to predominate over GSWs. PTXs were more commonly associated with SWs, whilst HPTX are more commonly associated with GSWs. A policy of selective conservatism is still applicable to the management of traumatic pleural collections.