Eighty-nine consecutive trauma patients, who were treated at one institution and received emergency thoracotomy, were studied. Although 76 (85%) of the patients had no vital signs at hospital arrival, 15 (17%) patients survived the emergency thoracotomy to progress to other hospital treatments. Ten patients were ultimately discharged, nine of whom have normal functions. Maintaining a broad set of indications for emergency thoracotomy may increase survival amongst trauma patients for whom the procedure is indicated.
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