Management of the Retained Knife Blade

Sobnach, Sanju; Nicol, Andrew; Nathire, Hassed; Kahn, Delawir; Navsaria, Pradeep
July 2010
World Journal of Surgery;Jul2010, Vol. 34 Issue 7, p1648
Academic Journal
The retained knife blade is an unusual and spectacular injury. The aim of this study was to review our experience with the management of such injuries. A retrospective chart review of patients with retained knife blades treated at Groote Schuur Hospital Trauma Centre from January 1996 to December 2007 was undertaken. Thirty-three patients with retained knife blades were identified. Site of wound entry was the thorax in 13 patients (40%), the neck and back in 7 patients (21%) each, upper and lower extremities in 4 (12%), and the face and abdomen in 1 patient (3%) each. Thirty patients (91%) were hemodynamically stable on admission; two (6%) presented with wound abscesses, and one patient (3%) with active bleeding required emergency surgery. All 33 blades were extracted after clinical and radiological assessment. Simple withdrawal of the blade was possible in 19 cases (58%) and the likelihood of post-extraction bleeding was only 5%. Thirteen patients (40%) required an open surgical approach through dissection of the entry wound, laparotomy, or thoracotomy. Video-assisted thoracoscopic removal was used in one case. Retained thoracic blades were significantly associated with postoperative sepsis ( P = 0.0054). There were no deaths. All impacted knife injuries require careful clinical and radiological assessment. Simple withdrawal can be performed safely in the emergency room provided potential life-threatening vascular and solid organ injuries have been excluded. There should be a low threshold for investigating and treating patients with retained intrathoracic blades for postoperative sepsis.


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