Background and objective: General surgeons are required in only a minority of trauma call cases to assess for abdominal injuries. Computed tomography (CT) accurately detects blunt abdominal injuries and may have replaced the need for general surgeons at trauma calls. This study evaluated the role of general surgeons at trauma calls and assessed use of CT in cases of suspected abdominal trauma.
Methods: (a) Eighteen month analysis of trauma calls at a district general hospital and (b) three month prospective study of all trauma cases presenting to A&E.
Results: (a) There were 73 trauma calls and the mechanism of injury in most cases was a road traffic accident (RTA). Most patients had orthopaedic and/or neurosurgical injuries. The general surgeons assessed 22 trauma call patients. Abdominal injury was excluded in 13 (four by clinical examination and nine following CT). (b) Forty three patients fulfilled the criteria for a trauma call and 14 trauma calls were made. The mechanism of injury in most was RTA and most had orthopaedic and/or neurosurgical injuries. The general surgeons assessed 10/43 potential trauma call patients, and abdominal injury was excluded in five (one by clinical examination and four following CT).
Conclusion: A&E staff managed most trauma calls. Most patients did not require general surgical intervention. For penetrating injuries, presence of a general surgeon remained crucial. For blunt injuries CT was an important adjunct. These data suggest that general surgeons do not routinely have to attend all trauma calls but can be called if abdominal and/or vascular injuries are specifically suspected.
- CT, computed tomography
- A&E, accident and emergency
- RBH, Royal Berkshire Hospital
- RTA, road traffic accident
- trauma calls
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Competing interests: none declared