Laryngotracheal Injuries: Does Injury Mechanism Matter?

Stassen, Nicole A.; Hoth, J. Jason; Scott, Melanie J.; Day, Carolyn S.; Lukan, James K.; Rodriguez, Jorge L.; Richardson, J. David
June 2004
American Surgeon;Jun2004, Vol. 70 Issue 6, p522
Academic Journal
Laryngotracheal injuries are potentially lethal injuries whose diagnosis can be difficult. The purpose of this study was to delineate the effect of injury mechanism on the types of injury sustained and patient outcome. Patient records during a 7-year period were reviewed for injury mechanism, patient demographics, clinical presentation, patient evaluation, injury location, associated injuries, operative interventions, and outcome. Fifteen patients with laryngotracheal injuries were studied. Blunt injuries were more common (60%). Patient demographics, mortality, average length of stay, and Injury Severity Score were similar for both groups. Prevalent physical findings on examination included subcutaneous air (53%), hoarseness (47%), stridor (20%), and neck tenderness (27%). Diagnosis was confirmed by CT scan of the neck (66% blunt, 33% penetrating) or bronchoscopy (44% blunt, 66% penetrating). Injury location, patient disposition, and associated injures were the same for both groups. The most frequent operative intervention performed for both groups consisted of a primary airway repair via a collar incision within 8 hours of injury. Only patients with a laryngeal injury required concomitant tracheostomy regardless of mechanism. Blunt and penetrating neck injuries resulted in similar types of tracheal and laryngeal injuries. Anatomic location of the injury determined the need for tracheostomy. Regardless of mechanism, the overall outcome for patients with laryngotracheal injuries is good when injuries are recognized and treated expeditiously. A high level of suspicion must be maintained when evaluating all potential laryngotracheal injury patients irrespective of the mechanism of injury.


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