An audit of traumatic haemothoraces in a regional hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Background: Haemothorax occurs in approximately 60% of all thoracic and polytrauma cases and is responsible for 15–30% of all trauma mortalities. Penetrating injuries to the thorax are a common presentation in South African hospitals. This study aims to audit the traumatic haemothoraces and their outcomes in regional hospitals in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Methods: In this study, patient characteristics were grouped as either continuous or categorical variables. Continuous variables, such as age were summarised as means (with standard deviations) or medians (interquartile range [IQR]), as appropriate. Categorical variables such as sex were summarised as proportions. Fisher’s exact test was used to compare proportions. All analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences.
Results: A total of 118 patients were included comprising 110 (93%) males and eight (7%) females, with an average age of 29.7 years. Stab-chest was the most frequent mechanism of injury (76; 64.4%), followed by gunshot wound (GSW)-chest (27; 22.9%) and isolated blunt chest trauma (9; 7.6%). Other mechanisms of injury were stab-neck (3; 2.5%), stab-shoulder (2; 1.7%) and blunt chest trauma in the context of polytrauma (1; 0.8%). The most frequent type of injury was penetrating (108; 91.5%), with only 10 (8.5%) cases of blunt injury. This study found that there was a statistically significant association between patient age groups and type of injury.
Conclusion: Haemothorax is a common sequela of chest trauma. Retained haemothorax (RH) results in worsened patient outcomes including increased hospital length of stay (LOS). This study points to the need for auditing of proper intercostal chest drain (ICD) positioning, which is crucial for the successful drainage of haemothorax.
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