Blunt breast trauma: is there a standard of care?

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The American surgeon


The incidence of female blunt breast trauma (FBBT) is unknown, and there are no established treatment guidelines. The purpose of this study was to establish the incidence of FBBT, define associated injuries, and develop a treatment algorithm. This is a retrospective analysis of FBBT at a Level I trauma center from October 2000 through December 2008. The incidence, mechanism, and severity of injury, associated injuries, therapeutic interventions, and clinical outcomes were evaluated. A total of 14,499 patients were evaluated. Of these, 13,637 were blunt trauma victims and 5,305 were female blunt trauma victims. One hundred and eight (2%) were diagnosed with FBBT. Although the average injury severity score (ISS) was 12.3 for all FBBT patients, 60 per cent of patients had an ISS > 15. Ninety-four per cent were caused by motor vehicle crashes, with the most common injuries being long bone fractures (45%) and rib fractures (44%). One hundred and one (93.5%) of the injuries were simple hematomas managed expectantly; seven patients (6.5%) had expanding hematomas with radiological evidence of active bleeding that ultimately required invasive procedures, with six of them undergoing arteriogram and four successfully embolized. One patient was taken directly to the operating room for surgical ligation of a bleeding vessel. These data represent the largest series of breast injuries ever reported. Because FBBT is a marker for severe associated injuries, our treatment algorithm recommends that women with radiological evidence of active bleeding who are hemodynamically stable be evaluated with a chest arteriogram plus or minus embolization. However, unstable patients with no other source of hemorrhage should undergo definitive urgent operative repair. All other patients should be managed expectantly.

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