Blunt aortic injury
Often overlooked, but it can be diagnosed with a thorough history and examination
- By: Stephen Bay Smith, Jennifer Thompson
Blunt aortic injury (BAI) is second to head injury as the most common cause of death after motor vehicle crashes. Although this injury occurs in only 1% of motor vehicle collisions, it is responsible for 15% of crash related deaths.1 BAI is often associated with multiorgan injuries and typically occurs as a result of a massive acute force to the thorax. The injury can be immediately fatal or alternatively can cause delayed morbidities that can manifest up to several years after the incident. Most people who survive the initial injury and present to the emergency department die within several days. Because of advancement in diagnostics and interventional technologies, however, the ability to manage patients with BAI is continually improving.
According to a US multicentre analysis, between 75% and 90% of people with blunt aortic injury die at the scene of trauma.2 Of the patients who arrive at the hospital alive,