Article Abstract

Diaphragm and transdiaphragmatic injuries

Authors: József Furák, Kalliopi Athanassiadi


The incidence of traumatic diaphragmatic rupture (TDR) is around 0.5% of all trauma patients, located more frequently on the left side (80%), with penetrating trauma being more predominantly the cause (63%) than blunt injuries (37%). TDR typically develops during thoracoabdominal injuries and outcome depends on the severity of the associated organ lesion. Diagnosis is sometimes very difficult: chest X-ray can verify TDR in only 25–70% of cases, although the specificity of a multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) is 100% and 83% for left and right-sided ruptures, respectively. When TDR is a part of a polytrauma, the management of the patient must follow the ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) protocol and surgery is rarely based on the primary survey. The usual scenario involves cases detected during the secondary survey. In acute cases approach is determined by the site of the life-threatening injuries. In the daily surgical routine, in cases of acute TDR, laparotomy provides the best approach to manage the associated abdominal injuries and diaphragmatic rupture. Alternatively a transthoracic approach offer access to reconstruction in cases of delayed. A transdiaphragmatic procedure is offered when during an exploration (laparotomy or thoracotomy), any sign of an injury (bleeding, perforation) is verified through the rupture of the diaphragm in the other cavity (abdomen or chest and vice versa): the injury via a transdiaphragmatic way can be managed. Usually, a simple and small rupture up to 5–6 cm can be reconstructed with No. 0 or 1 monofilament non-absorbable or absorbable interrupted sutures, while for larger defects, interrupted figure-of-eight or horizontal mattress sutures are required. Mesh prosthesis is rarely needed.

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