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South African Journal of Surgery

versión On-line ISSN 2078-5151
versión impresa ISSN 0038-2361


UCHINO, H et al. The scourge of knife crime: trends in knife-related assault managed at a major centre in South Africa. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2020, vol.58, n.3, pp.150-153. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: Knife wounds are common and represent a major burden to the South African healthcare system. This study reviews trends in spectrum, management and outcome of these injuries at a single trauma centre in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). METHODS: The regional hybrid electronic registry (HEMR) was reviewed for the period January 2013 - December 2018, and all patients who suffered a knife-related assault were identified and reviewed. RESULTS: During the period under review, a total of 2117 patients suffered a knife-related assault. Regions injured were as follows: head 445, neck 572, face 258, chest 939, abdomen 649, pelvic/urogenital 49, upper limb 418, and lower limb 105. The median ISS was 9 (4-10). Imaging comprised 1242 chest X-rays, 315 abdominal X-rays, 162 abdominal ultrasounds/ FAST, and 929 CT scans of which 634 were CT angiograms. A total of 783 (37%) patients required an operation. The rate of laparotomy was 447/649 (69%) and of thoracotomy/sternotomy/thoracoscopy 95/939 (10%). The rate of vascular exploration for upper and lower limb vascular injury was 101/523 (19%). Mortality was 49/2117 (2.3%). CONCLUSION: Although our clinical outcomes over this period appear to be consistent, suggesting a familiarity with managing knife-related trauma, the persistently high rate of knife-related injury suggests that we have failed to develop a preventative strategy to try and reduce this scourge.

Palabras clave : knife crimes; assault; major cities; South Africa.

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