General Trauma- Shock

There are different types of shock in regards to medical terminology. The first type of shock we will discuss is hypovolemic shock occurs due to low blood volume. Trauma patients with hypovolemic shock will need to be given fluids. The patient’s heart rate will be increased and the most reliable early clinical finding is tachycardia (fast heart rate). cardioThe patient will have an increased systemic vascular resistance. The patient will be cold and clammy. The patient should be given 2 liters of bolus Ringer’s lactate solution (RL), followed by a reevaluation of their vital signs.

Cardiogenic shock occurs as a result of poor pump function of the heart. There will be a decreased cardiac output and a decreased peripheral resistance. Obstructive shock is similar to cardiogenic shock as cardiac tamponade and pulmonary embolisms have the same features.

obshockAnother type of shock is known as septic shock and occurs during a decreased peripheral resistance and vasodilation. This is commonly seen in patients with septic neurogenicshock and necrotizing fasciitis.

Neurogenic shock occurs in patients with an acute spinal cord injury. There will be an impaired sympathetic response to the heart and blood vessels. Circulation will collapse with hypotension and bradycardia. The patient will have a decreased systemic vascular resistance and warm skin. Treatment is Swan-Ganz monitoring for careful fluid intake and giving pressor. Neurogenic shock is not a spinal shock with loss of all spinal cord function and reflexes below the level of the lesion. Neurogenic shock is hypotension and bradycardia.

In Hemorrhagic shock, the initiation of resuscitation is based on the degree of hemorrhage. The physician should start by giving 2 liters of crystalloid fluids (usually Ringer’s Lactate) with two lines. Then, the physician will want to reevaluate the vital signs. The patient may have a rapid response, transient response, or no response. If the patient has a transient response, then the patient is considered to be a class 3 or 4. Type O- blood should be given immediately. Type specific blood transfusions will take about ten minutes. Cross-matching the blood transfusion will take 60 minutes. So, if the patient is in shock and bleeding, the patient should be given O-blood. The blood ratio will be: Packed RBC-1, fresh frozen plasma-1, and platelets-1 (1:1:1). This will avoid dilution thrombocytopenia. Hepatitis B carries the highest risk of viral transition with the blood transfusion.

hemorrhage classThe class of Hemorrhage is as seen in the graph above. The patient has to lose about 30% of the blood volume in order to have hypotension. Patients in class 3 and 4 may not respond to fluid resuscitation and will require blood transfusions. There must be adequate fluid resuscitation. If the physician relies on the hemodynamic perimeters alone, they will miss the subclinical hypotension. Hemodynamic perimeters alone is an inadequate assessment tool for resuscitation.

Additionally, the physician will need to correct the hypothermia and coagulopathy. The terrible trauma triad is:

  1. Hypothermia
  2. Coagulopathy
  3. Acidosis

These are the life threatening conditions that may become worse by surgery and/or anesthesia.

head injuryAnother injury which commonly causes hypotension, are head injuries. Patients with head injuries can run into the problem of episodic hypotension intraoperatively which causes a significant increase in mortality. All efforts should be made to avoid hypotension during surgery. Patients with an AP pelvis, the physician can place a pelvic binder and “close the book” to help with the hypotension and hemorrhage. If the patient has lateral compression, look for another source of the bleeding if the patient continues to be unstable despite any effort for resuscitation (probably not from the pelvis). If you give the patient four units of blood because they have a pelvic fracture and is in shock, and the patient is not improving, the physician should order an angiography and embolization for a possible major arterial bleed in the pelvis (such as the superior gluteal artery).

How will the physician know if the patient is resuscitated?
There are several ways that this can be assessed, however there are two ways that are commonly seen on Orthopaedic Exams. The physician can assess resuscitation by the base deficit (from -2 to +2) or by the serum lactate level (normal is less than 2.5—some sources say less than 2). The blood lactate is the end point of anaerobic metabolism. The blood level of lactate reflects a global hypoperfusion that is directly proportionate to the oxygen deficiency. The base deficit is a direct measure of metabolic acidosis and an indirect measure of the blood lactate level. Both of these measure correlate well with organ dysfunction, mortality, and the adequacy of resuscitation.

For exam purposes, you will need to measure:

  1. Blood lactate
  2. Base deficit

In order to find the adequacy of resuscitation.

glucose chartNormally, the body utilizes energy from the breakdown of glucose. Each molecule will give us 2 pyruvate molecules and 2 ATP. This occurs when oxygen is present. If oxygen is not present, the pyruvate will attach to the protons and produce lactic acid. Lactic acid is a pyruvate that is holding onto protons. Lactate gives away the protons, the protons attach to the bicarbonate, and then you will find the base deficit. When the patient is acidotic, this means that the body is experiencing an inadequate tissue perfusion. Then, it undergoes anaerobic metabolism to create energy and lactate. The greater the lactate level, the greater the base deficit.

The physician needs to be aware of the under resuscitated patient and the compensated IL6shock. The patient can be under-resuscitated with normal vital signs. This patient will be at an increased risk for huge, exacerbated systemic inflammatory response. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) plays a major role in the inflammatory response. IL-6 is secreted by the T-cells and by the macrophages. This stimulates the immune response, especially during infection and trauma. The interleukins are a group of cytokines which are secreted proteins and signal molecules. IL-6 warns the body and the immune system against the source of infection or inflammation. This response is similar to “sounding the alarm” or raising attention that there is something wrong.

For these patients, we do damage control orthopaedics. For managing these patients, we should always do emergency procedures such as: a pelvic binder, angiography, fasciotomy (even bedside), consult with vascular surgery, prevent further injury to the spine by immobilizing the neck, reduce a knee or hip dislocation, reduce fractures thatfasciotomy will cause soft tissue compromise (like ankle or pilon fractures). The physician will deal with open fractures by doing debridement, splint, and improve the alignment of the fractures. The patient should be given antibiotics and a tetanus vaccination if needed. The physician will probably need to do traction or external fixation for femur fractures. The timing of debridement of open fractures does not really affect the infection rate. An early administration of antibiotics will decrease the rate of infection. The patient should be taken to the operating room as soon as possible after the life threatening condition is treated and stabilized (debatable). If the patient is adequately resuscitated, take the patient to the operating room and fix the fracture or convert the fractures which are stabilized by external fixation to an IM rod fixation.



Compartment Syndrome in Children


Compartment Syndrome in children can go unrecognized due to how difficult it can be to examine a child. Children have a poor perception of numbness and paresthesia and they tend to cry from injuries or fear. The actual amount of pain that a child feels cannot be estimated. It can also be challenging to remove splints or dressings in order to examine a child. In adults, well established compartment syndrome is historically defined by the 5 P’s:fivep

  1. Pain/Swelling
  2. Pulselessness
  3. Paresthesia
  4. Pallor
  5. Paralysis

These 5 P’s occur in established compartment syndrome and when these findings are present it is usually too late. These findings are considered late presentation. If the pressure is not released within 6-8 hours from its onset, there is irreversible damage to the muscles. Note for the diagnosis of impending Compartment Syndrome: it is better to diagnose compartment syndrome when it is impending rather than when it is established. The majority of clinicians will depend on a high index of suspicion supplemented by the clinical diagnosis and pressure measurements. Usually the clinician’s findings of impending Compartment Syndrome are—pain greater than after surgery or injury, tense swelling, and pain with passive stretch. pressure measureIf compartment syndrome is suspected, measure the compartment pressure if you can. If the compartment pressure is greater than 30mHg (absolute measurement), or within 30mmHg of the diastolic pressure, then an immediate fasciotomy should be performed. These clinical findings are different in children and physicians are usually not familiar with how compartment syndrome presents itself in children.

Clinical findings in children include:

  • Increased pain with an increase in pain medication
  • Increased agitation
  • Increased anxiety of the child, parents, and nurses

For example, if a doctor goes on the floor and finds the nurses are with the parents in the room of the child and the child is in pain and everyone else is quiet, then there is a problem. The doctor should begin with removing the dressing and checking the extremity. Bivalving the cast will decrease the pressure significantly. When in doubt, measure the pressure. Objective findings, such as measuring the pressure, may be necessary to exclude the presence of compartment syndrome in children. The doctor may rely on his clinical judgment alone to diagnose compartment syndrome and perform a fasciotomy. However, the doctor should not rely on their clinical judgment alone to exclude compartment syndrome, especially if the patient has other findings of compartment syndrome.


Areas of concern for the development of compartment syndrome in children are: high energy fractures, multiple fractures in the same extremity (such as: floating elbow), multiple closed reductions, and/or the use of a fibroblast cast—which can be two times tighter than plaster. It is important to fix the fracture and provide post-operative monitoring with a possible delay in feeding the patient. A delay in diagnosis may lead to a poor outcome.

The use of an ACell can help with skin graft regeneration and may be used in an outpatient basis to cover the defect. The use of a VAC is always helpful.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Diabetes, A Challenging Problem

Approximately 20% of diabetic patients will develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Peripheral neuropathy makes the condition of the carpal tunnel worse. It is suggested that the never that already has established hypoxia caused by diabetes is more vulnerable to local compression. Other mechanisms and explanations are also involved, so it is a difficult diagnosis). Some people believe that patients with diabetic neuropathy will have a high prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome.


Electrodiagnostic testing (EMG and nerve studies) cannot distinguish patients with clinical carpal tunnel syndrome from patients with diabetic polyneuropathy. The decision to treat these patients should be made independently of the electrodiagnostic findings. When treating the patient, try to figure out the patient’s blood sugar level. There may be difficulty in determining if the blood sugar is under control.


HBA1C (the glycosylated hemoglobin test) is an important blood test that shows how well the diabetes is being controlled. The test provides an average blood sugar control over the last 2-3 moths. The normal range of hemoglobin A1c is between 4% and 5.6%. When the level is 6.5% or higher, this indicated diabetes. The goal of treatment is to make sure that the patient with diabetes has hemoglobin A1c less than 7%. The higher the levels of Hemoglobin A1c, the higher the risk of developing complications. People should have the test done every three months to check and see that their blood sugar is under control. At least, the test should be done twice a year.


The difficulty in carpal tunnel syndrome in diabetic patients is the difficulty of diagnosis, the difficulty in determining if the diabetes is being controlled or not, and if there will be surgery needed, will the patient have complications or not.

Patients who develop complications in orthopedics include: diabetics, obese patients, heavy smokers and patients taking blood thinners.


If the condition is acute or an emergency, we have to do surgery. If the condition is elective, then surgery can wait. If the patient has poor glycemic control, then you probably don’t want to perform elective surgery on the patient such as carpal tunnel release. Remember, elective surgery can wait.

High blood sugar is linked to increased wound complications after surgery. Hemoglobin A1c is used to monitor the patient’s blood sugar level. The higher preoperative Hemoglobin A1c level, the more there is a risk factor for surgical site infection. Elective surgery can be delayed until HBA1c level becomes normal or better. Joint replacement surgery for example is delayed until HBA1c levels are less than 7%.

Since carpal tunnel syndrome is common in patients with diabetes, we need to take time to sort things out with these conditions. We need to know that the patient has better control of their diabetes. Carpal tunnel syndromes is a small surgery, but it can have catastrophic effect if we do not have a good control of the patient’s diabetes. Hemoglobin A1c will help us monitor the patient. Carpal tunnel surgery can cause complications and infection providing that high levels of HBA1c levels is a true risk factor for infection postoperatively.


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Orthopedic Surgeon Pioneers Bedside Fasciotomy Procedure

Dr Nabil Ebraheim

The chief of orthopedic trauma and the chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Toledo Medical School, Professor Nabil Ebraheim, MD, has pioneered multiple surgical techniques, including bedside fasciotomy. Nabil Ebraheim, MD, and the coauthors of a largely cited and used technique bedside fasciotomy study were the first to put into literature discussion of the bedside fasciotomy referencing a large number of cases.

Fasciotomy is a type of surgery performed on patients who have acute compartment syndrome, a painful condition that involves pressure building in the muscles. This procedure usually takes place in an operating room using general anesthesia. Bedside fasciotomy, however, takes place at the bedside under local anesthesia.

It is a quicker way to address the condition if for some reason there is a delay in conducting the procedure in the operating room. Some reasons for delay may include a lack of availability of the operating room, short staff, or reluctance on the part of the patient. If acute compartment syndrome is not handled as soon as possible, permanent muscle damage can occur. The bedside procedure allows for the issue to be addressed as quickly as possible.