Tag Archives: extremity

Early femur fixation recommended

The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma recommends early (<24 hours) open reduction and internal fracture fixation in trauma patients with open or closed femur fractures.

They acknowledge the strength of the evidence is low, but suggests a trend toward lower risk of infection, mortality, and venous thromboembolic disease.

They conclude: “the desirable effects of early femur fracture stabilization probably outweigh the undesirable effects in most patients

Check out the rest of the EAST Trauma Guidelines

Optimal timing of femur fracture stabilization in polytrauma patients: A practice management guideline from the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 2014;77(5):787-795

Femur fractures are common among trauma patients and are typically seen in patients with multiple injuries resulting from high-energy mechanisms. Internal fixation with intramedullary nailing is the ideal method of treatment; however, there is no consensus regarding the optimal timing for internal fixation. We critically evaluated the literature regarding the benefit of early (<24 hours) versus late (>24 hours) open reduction and internal fixation of open or closed femur fractures on mortality, infection, and venous thromboembolism (VTE) in trauma patients.

A subcommittee of the Practice Management Guideline Committee of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis for the earlier question. RevMan software was used to generate forest plots. Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations methodology was used to rate the quality of the evidence, using GRADEpro software to create evidence tables.

No significant reduction in mortality was associated with early stabilization, with a risk ratio (RR) of 0.74 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.50–1.08). The quality of evidence was rated as “low.” No significant reduction in infection (RR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.10–1.6) or VTE (RR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.37–1.07) was associated with early stabilization. The quality of evidence was rated “low.”

In trauma patients with open or closed femur fractures, we suggest early (<24 hours) open reduction and internal fracture fixation. This recommendation is conditional because the strength of the evidence is low. Early stabilization of femur fractures shows a trend (statistically insignificant) toward lower risk of infection, mortality, and VTE. Therefore, the panel concludes the desirable effects of early femur fracture stabilization probably outweigh the undesirable effects in most patients.

How You Train is How You Fight

Simulation makes us more effective. I think it’s good to consider how one would deal with emergency situations in every day life, and practice the response. There are ALWAYS learning points.

My four year old son Kal brought along his rubber red bellied black snake on a New Year’s Day bush walk with my family. Too good an opportunity to miss, so we practiced managing a snakebite scenario. What we did and what we learned are summarised in this three minute video:

This was a worthwhile exercise. Learning points were:

1. Carry a knife to help cut up the teeshirt (if you don’t carry bandages)

2. Call for help early – it takes several minutes to apply the pressure immobilisation bandage, so ideally these things are done in parallel rather than series.

3. Know how to get your coordinates from your smart phone. Several free apps are available.
On an Apple iPhone, they are displayed on the ‘Compass’ app but ONLY if you have enabled location services (Settings->Privacy->Location Services->Compass)

location services compass-10










Learn more about pressure immobilisation technique and its indications from the Australian Resuscitation Council

Intranasal ketamine for kids – 1mg / kg?

A small pilot study on a convenience sample of children presenting to the emergency department with acute limb injury pain evaluated the use of intranasal ketamine(1).

Initial dose averaged 0.84 mg/kg and a third of the patients required a top up dose at 15 minutes, resulting in a total dose of about 1.0 mg/kg to provide adequate analgesia by 30 min for most patients. The authors suggest that this could guide investigators on an appropriate dose of IN ketamine for use in clinical trials.

Adverse events were all transient and mild.

Prior to administration, the ketamine was diluted with saline to a total volume of 0.5 mL and was administered as 0.25 mL per nare using a Mucosal Atomiser Device (MAD, Wolfe Tory Medical, Salt Lake City, UT, USA). According to the protocols in my Service, this device requires 0.1 ml to prime its dead space(2). It is unclear whether this factor may have affected the total dose delivered to the patient in this study.

1. Sub-dissociative dose intranasal ketamine for limb injury pain in children in the emergency department: A pilot study
Emerg Med Australas. 2013 Apr;25(2):161-7

OBJECTIVE: The present study aims to conduct a pilot study examining the effectiveness of intranasal (IN) ketamine as an analgesic for children in the ED.

METHODS: The present study used an observational study on a convenience sample of paediatric ED patients aged 3-13 years, with moderate to severe (≥6/10) pain from isolated limb injury. IN ketamine was administered at enrolment, with a supplementary dose after 15 min, if required. Primary outcome was change in median pain rating at 30 min. Secondary outcomes included change in median pain rating at 60 min, patient/parent satisfaction, need for additional analgesia and adverse events being reported.

RESULTS: For the 28 children included in the primary analysis, median age was 9 years (interquartile range [IQR] 6-10). Twenty-three (82.1%) were male. Eighteen (64%) received only one dose of IN ketamine (mean dose 0.84 mg/kg), whereas 10 (36%) required a second dose at 15 min (mean for second dose 0.54 mg/kg). The total mean dose for all patients was 1.0 mg/kg (95% CI: 0.92-1.14). The median pain rating decreased from 74.5 mm (IQR 60-85) to 30 mm (IQR 12-51.5) at 30 min (P < 0.001, Mann-Whitney). For the 24 children who contributed data at 60 min, the median pain rating was 25 mm (IQR 4-44). Twenty (83%) subjects were satisfied with their analgesia. Eight (33%) were given additional opioid analgesia and the 28 reported adverse events were all transient and mild.

CONCLUSIONS: In this population, an average dose of 1.0 mg/kg IN ketamine provided adequate analgesia by 30 min for most patients

2. Case report: prehospital use of intranasal ketamine for paediatric burn injury
Emerg Med J. 2011 Apr;28(4):328-9

In this study, the administration of an intravenous ketamine formulation to the nasal mucosa of a paediatric burn victim is described in the prehospital environment. Effective analgesia was achieved without the need for vascular or osseous access. Intranasal ketamine has been previously described for chronic pain and anaesthetic premedication. This case highlights its potential as an option for prehospital analgesia.

Pre-hospital amputation

British trauma surgeon and pre-hospital pioneer Professor Keith Porter describes how to do a pre-hospital amputation in this months EMJ. Thankfully the procedure is only rarely necessary and often only requires cutting remaining skin bridges with scissors. The indications are:

  • An immediate and real risk to the patient’s life due to a scene safety emergency
  • A deteriorating patient physically trapped by a limb when they will almost certainly die during the time taken to secure extrication
  • A completely mutilated non-survivable limb retaining minimal attachment, which is delaying extrication and evacuation from the scene in a non-immediate life-threatening situation
  • The patient is dead and their limbs are blocking access to potentially live casualties

simple equipment for amputation

The recommended procedure is:

  1. Ketamine anaesthesia
  2. Apply an effective proximal tourniquet
  3. Amputate as distally as possible
  4. Perform a guillotine amputation
  5. Apply haemostats to large blood vessels
  6. Leave the tourniquet in situ
  7. Apply a padded dressing and transport to hospital

Remember: the requirement for prehospital amputation other than cutting minimal soft tissue bridges is rare. However pre-hospital critical care physicians should be trained and equipped to amputate limbs in order to save life. Probably good to have a Gigli saw in your pack and to familiarise yourself with its use, as shown here:

Sydney HEMS doctors training in amputation

Prehospital amputation
Emerg Med J 2010 27: 940-942

Tourniquets Revisited

A volunteer study showed that tourniquets were just as effective at occluding distal blood flow measured by doppler signal when placed below the elbow or knee compared with above those joints. A makeshift windlass tourniquet, a rubber tube tourniquet, and a blood pressure cuff were all effective. Digital ‘pressure point control’ failed to maintain control of brachial or femoral artery flow.

Tourniquets Revisited
J Trauma. 2009 Mar;66(3):672-5