Author: Aaron Lessen M.D.
- Thoracotomy is a potentially life-saving procedure. However, outcomes are often poor and the procedure itself poses many risks to provider and patient.
- Chance of surviving a thoracotomy when there is no cardiac activity on ultrasound is 0%.
- Performing a thoracotomy is unlikely to benefit patients with no cardiac activity on ultrasound or patients that lost vital signs greater than 10 minutes before starting the procedure.
- A thoracotomy is maximally beneficial in patients with a penetrating chest injury that occurred less than 10 minutes before the procedure.
References: K. Inaba et al, “FAST Ultrasound Examination as a Predictor of Outcomes After Resuscitative Thoracotomy: A Prospective Evaluation” Ann. of Surgery, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26258320