Resuscitation of Polytrauma Patients: The Management of Massive Skeletal Bleeding

Enrique Guerado*, 1, Maria Luisa Bertrand 1, Luis Valdes 2, Encarnacion Cruz 1, Juan Ramon Cano 1
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Hospital Costa del Sol, University of Malaga, Spain
2 Department of Anaesthesiology, Hospital Costa del Sol, Spain

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© Guerado et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Hospital Costa del Sol, University of Malaga, Autovía A-7, Km 187, 29603. Marbella (Malaga), Spain; Tel: 34 951976224; 34 951976669; E-mail:


The term ‘severely injured patient’ is often synonymous of polytrauma patient, multiply-injured patient or, in some settings, polyfractured patient. Together with brain trauma, copious bleeding is the most severe complication of polytrauma. Consequently hypotension develop. Then, the perfusion of organs may be compromised, with the risk of organ failure. Treatment of chest bleeding after trauma is essential and is mainly addressed via surgical manoeuvres. As in the case of lesions to the pelvis, abdomen or extremities, this approach demonstrates the application of damage control (DC). The introduction of sonography has dramatically changed the diagnosis and prognosis of abdominal bleeding. In stable patients, a contrast CT-scan should be performed before any x-ray projection, because, in an emergency situation, spinal or pelvic fractures be missed by conventional radiological studies. Fractures or dislocation of the pelvis causing enlargement of the pelvic cavity, provoked by an anteroposterior trauma, and in particular cases presenting vertical instability, are the most severe types and require fast stabilisation by closing the pelvic ring diameter to normal dimensions and by stabilising the vertical shear. Controversy still exists about whether angiography or packing should be used as the first choice to address active bleeding after pelvic ring closure. Pelvic angiography plays a significant complementary role to pelvic packing for final haemorrhage control. Apart from pelvic trauma, fracture of the femur is the only fracture provoking acute life-threatening bleeding. If possible, femur fractures should be immobilised immediately, either by external fixation or by a sheet wrap around both extremities.

Keywords: Contrast pelvis fracture, CT-Scan, damage control, FAST, Polytrauma, resuscitation.