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South African Journal of Surgery

On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361


HAMPTON, M et al. An urban trauma centre experience with abdominal vena cava injuries. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2016, vol.54, n.1, pp.36-42. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: The aim of the study was to present the surgical management of injuries to the abdominal vena cava (AVC) and to identify clinical and physiological factors and management strategies which affect the outcome. METHODS: A retrospective review was conducted of AVC injuries in patients attending the trauma centre at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, from January 2003 to December 2011. Demographic data, mechanism and agent of injury, level of injury, physiological parameters, associated injuries, trauma scores, management strategy, morbidity and mortality, and length of hospital stay were taken from the trauma centre's operative databank at Groote Schuur Hospital. RESULTS: Thirty-five patients with AVC injuries were identified. There were 33 penetrating injuries (94%). Gunshot wounds accounted for 28 of them (85%). There were 19 (54%) infrarenal, 9 (26%) juxtarenal, 3 (7%) suprarenal and 4 (11%) retrohepatic AVC injuries. Most patients were treated with ligation (66%). There were 17 (49%) deaths. There were significant differences in the preoperative systolic blood pressure (p = 0.044), number of red cell units transfused (p = 0.001), serum lactate (p = 0.007), arterial pH (p = 0.002) and preoperative temperature (p = 0.000) between the survivors and non-survivors. There was also a significant difference in ligation versus repair between the two groups (p = ≤ 0.000). There was no difference in the injury severity, level of injury and the number of associated injuries between survivors and non-survivors. CONCLUSION: AVC injuries are associated with high mortality. Patients presenting with clinical and physiological evidence of shock and who require "damage control" surgery are more likely to suffer a worse outcome, particularly when multiple physiological derangements are present. Patients who died often have severe associated injuries.

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