0 Extremity Trauma 14 Key Lecture Points Stress that the extremities MUST be examined for exsanguinating blood loss during the ITLS Primary Survey.The treatment of extremity trauma should be deemphasized in the patient with a load-and-go condition. In this scenario, traction splints should not be applied on scene; rather, a long spine board should be employed initially. Other splints can be applied during transport, if there is time.Estimated blood loss in major extremity fractures should be covered.The splints available for various purposes should be mentioned.Stress that the rescuer must note neurovascular status of the extremities before and after splinting procedures.Mention that when there is bleeding that cannot be controlled by pressure, use of a tourniquet and/or hemostatic agents is warranted.
5 OverviewMajor mechanisms, associated trauma, potential complications, management:Clavicle/shoulderElbowForearm and wristHand or foot
6 Extremity TraumaDistorted or wounded extremities must not distract from life-threatening injuries.Easy to identifyDisabling but rarely immediately life-threateningPotential danger:Hemorrhagic shock (very few)Neurovascular compromiseDistal PMSIt is important to remember that movement of air through airway, mechanics of breathing, maintenance of circulating blood volume, and appropriate treatment of shock always come before splinting of any fracture.Only direct lacerations of arteries or fractures of pelvis or femur are commonly associated with enough bleeding to cause shock.Injuries to nerves or vessels that serve hands and feet are most common complications of fractures and dislocations.
7 Extremity Trauma Extremity injuries Fractures Dislocations Open wounds AmputationsNeurovascular injuriesSprains & strainsImpaled objectsCompartment syndromeCrush injuryNOTE: Overview slide of list of injuries that will be covered.Courtesy of Roy Alson, MD
8 Extremity Injuries Fractures Open (compound) Closed (simple) Communication to outsideDanger of contaminationBlood loss outside bodyClosed (simple)No communication to outsideNo danger of contaminationBlood loss inside bodyIMAGE: Figure 14-1a Open fracture.IMAGE: Figure 14-1b Closed fracture.Generally quite painful; consider use of analgesic medication if your protocols and situation allow.Fractured bone ends are extremely sharp and quite dangerous to all tissues that surround bone. Nerves and arteries frequently travel near bone, across flexor side of joints, or very near skin; they are frequently injured. Such neurovascular injuries may be due to lacerations from bone fragments or from pressure due to swelling or hematoma.Sprain and strain injuries cannot be differentiated from fractures in field. Treat them as though they were fractures.If protruding bone ends are pulled back into skin when limb is aligned, bacteria-contaminated debris will be pulled into wound. Infection from such debris may prevent healing of bone and may even cause death from septic complications.(Photo courtesy of Roy Alson, MD)
9 Fractures Hemorrhage with fracture Closed femur fracture Loss of 1 liter of bloodTwo closed femur fractures life-threateningIMAGE: Figure 14-2 Blood loss x-ray of femur.Remember, multiple fractures can cause life-threatening hemorrhage without any external blood loss.(Courtesy of ®E. M. Singletary, MD)
10 Fractures Hemorrhage with fracture Closed pelvic fracture Extensive bleeding into abdomen or retroperitonealUsually fractures in several places500 cc of blood loss for each fractureMay lacerate bladder or large pelvic blood vesselsIMAGE: Figure 14-3 Blood loss x-ray of pelvis.A fractured pelvis can cause extensive bleeding into the abdomen or the retroperitoneal space.An unstable pelvis is usually fractured in at least two places, and may have caused more than one liter of associated blood loss.Depending on the location of the pelvic fracture, there may be associated injury to the urinary tract, bladder, or bowel.Remember, multiple fractures can cause life-threatening hemorrhage without any external blood loss.Having only one fracture in pelvis is unlikely.(Courtesy of Sabina Braithwaite, MD)
12 Dislocations Management No neurovascular compromise Splint in position foundNeurovascular compromiseApply only gentle traction in effort to straightenOften best: pad and splint in most comfortable position and rapid safe transportIf extremity is severely angulated and pulses are absent, apply gentle traction in an attempt to straighten it (Figure 14-7), but never exceed 10 pounds of pressure. If resistance encountered, splint extremity in angulated position.It takes very little force to lacerate wall of a vessel or to interrupt blood supply to a large nerve. If trauma center is near, always splint in position found.
13 Extremity Injuries Open wounds Remove contamination Gross: removeSmaller: irrigate with normal salineSterile dressing and bandagePressure dressing, if necessaryPressure pointTourniquet rareHemostatic agent(Courtesy of 2010 North American Rescue, LLC)IMAGE: Figure 14-4 Tourniquet.NOTE: More on hemostatic agents and tourniquets later in the presentation.If you have bleeding that cannot be stopped with pressure or with a tourniquet, such as injuries to the axilla, neck, or groin, you should use a hemostatic agent if availableGross contamination such as leaves or gravel should be removed from wound, and smaller pieces of contamination can be irrigated from wound with normal saline in same manner that you would irrigate a chemically contaminated eye.Patients with severe hemorrhage should be transported immediately following completion of the ITLS Primary Survey.
14 Open WoundsObvious exsanguinating hemorrhage— only time can change order of ABC to CABC.Control bleedingAirwayBreathingCirculation
16 Extremity Injuries Amputation Management Cover with damp sterile dressing, elastic wrapUniform reasonable pressure across stumpTourniquet if bleeding absolutely not controlledRarely neededRetrieve amputated partIn plastic bag, inside ice water(Courtesy of Stanley Cooper, EMT-P)Steps to control exsanguinating hemorrhageDirect PressureApplication of TourniquetUse of Hemostatic AgentMake an effort to find amputated part and bring it with you; parts can frequently be used for graft material. Reimplantation is attempted only in very limited situations, so you should not suggest that reimplantation will be done but rather that doctor will evaluate whether reimplantation is possible.Small amputated parts should be placed in a plastic bag. If ice is available, place bag in a larger bag or container containing ice and water. Do not use ice alone, and never use dry ice. Cooling part slows chemical processes and will increase viability from 4 hours to up to 18 hours.
17 Extremity Injuries Neurovascular injuries Distal PMS Nerves and major vessels run beside each other in flexor area of major jointsDistal PMSAssess pulseAssess motor functionAssess sensoryCourtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-PForeign bodies or broken bone ends may well impinge on delicate structures and cause them to malfunction.Always check for PMS before and after any extremity manipulation, application of splint, or traction.Courtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-P
18 International Trauma Life Support, 6e Extremity InjuriesInternational Trauma Life Support, 6eSprainInjury to ligaments of a jointPain & swellingTreat like a fractureStrainInjury of musculotendinous unitA sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments of a joint because of a sudden twist.It will cause pain and swelling.In the field, sprains cannot be differentiated from a fracture so they should be splinted as if they were fractures.A strain is a stretching or tearing of a muscle or musculotendinous unit and will cause pain and often swelling.It should be splinted for comfort.Strains can usually (but not always) be differentiated from a fracture, but by splinting them you have protected them even if a fracture is present.
20 Extremity Injuries Compartment syndrome Forearm and lower leg most commonSwelling compresses nerves and vesselsIMAGE: Cross-section of forearm showing compartments.The extremities contain muscles and other structures surrounded by tough membranes, known as fascia, that do not stretch, creating multiple closed spaces known as compartments. As area swells, pressure is transmitted to blood vessels and nerves. This pressure may compress blood vessels in such a manner that circulation is impossible. The nerves may also be compromised.These injuries usually develop over a period of hours.
21 Compartment Syndrome Early symptoms Late symptoms Pain Paresthesia PallorPulselessnessParesthesiaParalysisLate symptoms are five Ps: pain, pallor, pulselessness, paresthesia, and paralysis. Early symptoms are usually pain and paresthesia. As with shock, think of this diagnosis before later symptoms develop.
22 International Trauma Life Support, 6e Extremity InjuriesInternational Trauma Life Support, 6eCrush injuryPressure on extremities for extended timeAnaerobic metabolismPressure releasedBlood flow to crushed tissue reinstatedToxins distributed throughout entire bodya.k.a. “Crush or Compression Syndrome”Pressure exerted on extremities due to a prolonged entrapment can disrupt blood flow, which promotes anaerobic metabolism within tissues.When extrication is complete and blood flow from the crushed tissue is reinstated to central circulation, hemorrhage from the crushed tissue and toxins produced in the crushed tissue being distributed throughout the body are potential complications. The toxins released include myoglobin, potassium, phosphorus, lactic acid, and uric acid, which may induce cardiac dysrhythmia and severe kidney damage. The systemic metabolic acidosis effects the toxins cause are described as crush syndrome or compression syndrome.
23 ITLS Patient Assessment Mechanism historyFalls landing on feetSitting positionFall onto wristFall onto ankleShoulder involvedPelvis involvedCommon injuryFoot, lumbar spineKnee, hipWrist, elbowAnkle, proximal fibulaShoulder, neck, chestPelvis, shockWith extremity trauma, it is especially important to get detailed history because mechanism of injury may not be apparent in Scene Size-up.Foot injuries from long jumps (falls landing on feet) often have lumbar spine injuries associated with them.Any injury to knee when patient is in sitting position may have associated injuries to hip. In a like manner, hip injuries may refer pain to knee, so knee and hip are intimately connected and must be evaluated together rather than separately.Falls onto wrist frequently injure elbow, and so wrist and elbow must be evaluated together.The same is true of ankle and proximal fibula of outside of lower leg.Any injury that appears to be in shoulder must be carefully examined because it may easily involve either neck, chest, or shoulder.Fractures of pelvis are usually associated with very large amounts of blood loss. Whenever a fracture in pelvis is identified, shock must be suspected and proper treatment begun.
25 Management Splinting Load-and-go patients Prevent motion in broken bone endsEliminate further damageDecrease painLoad-and-go patientsTemporary splinting with long backboardAdditional splinting during transportNerves that cause most pain in fractured extremity lie in membrane surrounding bone. Broken bone ends irritate these nerves, causing a very deep and distressing type of pain.Proper management of fractures and dislocations will decrease incidence of pain, disability, and serious complications. Treatment in prehospital setting is directed at proper immobilization of injured part by use of an appropriate splint.Even with proper immobilization of fractures, patient may require analgesic medication.It is never appropriate to sacrifice time splinting a limb to prevent disability, when that time may be needed to save patient's life. Conversely, if patient appears to be stable, extremity fractures should be splinted before moving patient.
26 Splinting Rules Adequately visualize Distal PMS before and after splintingTreat neurovascular compromiseCover open wounds with sterile dressingImmobilize one joint above and belowApply on side away from open woundPad splint wellDo not attempt to push bone ends under skinAdequately visualize injured part. Clothes should be cut off, not pulled off, unless there is only an isolated injury that presents no problem to maintaining immobilization.Do not attempt to push bone ends back under skin. If you apply traction and bone end retracts back into wound, do not increase amount of traction.You should not use your hands or any tools to try to pull bone ends back out, but be sure to notify receiving physician.Carefully pad bone ends with bandages before applying pneumatic splints to lower extremities.Healing of bone is improved if bone ends are kept moist when transport time is prolonged.
27 If in doubt, splint possible injury. Extremity TraumaIf in doubt, splint possible injury.
28 Types of Splints (Courtesy of Eduardo Romero Hicks, MD) IMAGE: Figure 14-9 Examples of splints.NOTE: Many of these splints will be used in examples of specific injury splinting.Rigid splints should be padded well and should always extend one joint above and below fracture.Soft splints—Air splints are good for fractures of lower arm and lower leg.Air splints have advantage of compression, which helps to slow bleeding, but have disadvantage of increasing pressure as temperature rises or altitude increases. They should not be put on angulated fractures since they will automatically apply straightening pressure.Other major disadvantages of air splints include fact that extremity pulses cannot be monitored while splint is in place, and splints also often stick to skin and are painful to remove.When using air splints, you must constantly check pressure to be sure that splint is not getting too tight or too loose (they often leak).Pillows make good splints for injuries to ankle or foot. They are also helpful, along with a sling and a swathe, to stabilize a dislocated shoulder.Slings and swathes are excellent for injuries to clavicle, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, and sometimes forearm. They utilize chest wall as a solid foundation and splint arm against chest wall. Some shoulder injuries cannot be brought close to chest wall without significant force being applied. In these instances, pillows are used to bridge gap between chest wall and upper arm.Traction splint is designed for fractures of femur. It holds fracture immobile by application of a steady pull on ankle while applying counter traction to ischium and groin. This steady traction overcomes tendency of very strong thigh muscles to spasm. If traction is not applied, pain worsens because bone ends tend to impact or override.Traction also prevents free motion of ends of femur, which could lacerate femoral nerve, artery, or vein. There are many designs and types of splints available to apply traction to lower extremity, but each must be carefully padded and applied with care to prevent excessive pressure on soft tissues around pelvis.It is also necessary to use a great deal of care in applying ankle hitch so as not to interfere with circulation of foot. Many of these devices can be used with a buck's boot as an alternative to ankle hitch.(Courtesy of Eduardo Romero Hicks, MD)
29 International Trauma Life Support, 6e TourniquetsCommon in military and tactical settingsRegaining use in civilian useNot without complicationsLabel patients who have tourniquetsIMAGE: Figure 14-4 Tourniquets.Tourniquets have returned to common use in both the military and tactical settings for uncontrollable extremity hemorrhage.They have been shown to improve survival and outcomes in these settings, and are regaining acceptance in civilian use as well.However, since tourniquets are designed to compress tissue and blood vessels to limit ongoing blood loss, they have significant consequences and their use should be time-limited, ideally to two hours or less.Complications can increase significantly after this time period, and ability to salvage the injured limb decreases.You should follow the specific guidelines for the commercial tourniquet you are using. One of the most important factors is to ensure that all care providers are aware that a tourniquet has been applied to the patient. One method is to write “TK” and the time of application on the patient's forehead. Never cover a tourniquet. Commercial tourniquets offer advantages over improvised tourniquets, including rounded edges and a wider profile, which better distributes the pressure and limits damage to the tissues. Once you have placed a tourniquet, you should expedite transport to the trauma center.(Courtesy of 2010 North American Rescue, LLC)
30 International Trauma Life Support, 6e Hemostatic AgentsInternational Trauma Life Support, 6eFor uncontrollable bleedingPromote clot formationUsed in conjunction with direct pressureFor bleeding that is uncontrollable with direct pressure or the use of tourniquets, hemostatic agents have demonstrated the ability to reduce or stop bleeding through the promotion of clot formation.The form of the hemostatic agent (dressing, powder, packets, etc.) will depend upon the specific product utilized. Regardless, direct application and pressure to the source of the bleeding vessel, not just the area of the wound, is required to maximize effectiveness.Direct pressure should be maintained for a minimum of two minutes or until bleeding is controlled. Following cessation of bleeding, the application of a pressure dressing or gauze to the wound is recommended. To maximize effectiveness, it is recommended that prior to utilization of hemostatic agents, EMS personnel should become familiar with and follow the application instructions for each type of product used in practice.
31 Extremity Trauma Spine Spine injuries are covered elsewhere in book but are included here to remind you that, if there is any chance of one, proper SMR (spinal motion restriction) must be done to prevent lifelong paralysis or even death from a spinal-cord injury.Remember that certain mechanisms of injury, such as a fall from a height in which patient lands on both feet, may cause lumbar spine fracture because forces are transmitted all the way up the body.Courtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-P
32 Extremity Trauma Pelvis NOTE: It is practical to include injuries to pelvis with extremities because they are frequently associated.Pelvic injuries are usually caused by motor-vehicle collisions or by severe trauma, such as falls from heights.Identified by gentle pressure being placed on iliac crests, hips, and pubis during ITLS Primary Survey. Always potential for serious hemorrhage in pelvic fractures, so shock should be expected and patient rapidly transported (load and go).Internal bleeding from unstable pelvic fractures can be decreased by circumferential stabilization of pelvis. PASG or slings made from sheets have been used in past, but there are now commercially available pelvic slings or belts made for this purpose. PSAG/ MAST pants did NOT provide circumferential compression to the pelvisPelvic injury should have SMR. Vacuum backboard is especially useful here because it is much more comfortable than hard backboard. Log-rolling a patient with an unstable pelvic fracture can aggravate injury. Scoop stretcher or adequate manpower is needed to move these patients to backboard. As mentioned in Chapter 2, some new, more rigid scoop stretchers provide SMR equal to a backboard.Courtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-PCourtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-P
33 Extremity Trauma Femur Femur usually fractures at mid-shaft, although hip fractures are quite common.May have open wounds associated with them and must be presumed to be open fractures.There is a lot of muscle tissue surrounding femur, and when spasm develops after a femur fracture, bone ends tend to override, causing more muscle damage. Because of this, traction splints are usually used to stabilize fracture and prevent shortening.Because of large muscle mass, a great deal of bleeding can occur into tissue of thigh. Bilateral femur fractures can be associated with a loss of up to 50% of circulating blood volume.Courtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-PCourtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-P
35 Extremity TraumaKneeKnee injuries are quite serious, because arteries are bound down above and below knee joint and are often bruised or lacerated if joint is in an abnormal position.There is no way to know whether a fracture exists in an abnormally positioned knee and, in either case, decision must be based on circulation and neurological function below knee in foot. Many knee injuries later require amputation. It is important to restore circulation below knee whenever possible. Prompt reduction of knee dislocation is very important.Treat neurovascular compromise. Force of no more than 10 pounds must be applied along long axis of leg. If there is resistance to straightening knee, splint it in most comfortable position and transport patient rapidly. This may be considered a true orthopedic emergency.Do not confuse this injury with a patella dislocation. Patella will dislocate to side (easily seen to be out of place), and affected leg will be held slightly flexed at knee. While painful, this is not a serious injury and should simply be splinted with a pillow under knee and taken to emergency department. Straightening leg usually reduces patella dislocation.Courtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-PCourtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-P
39 Extremity Trauma Elbow It is often difficult to see difference between a fracture and a dislocation. Both can be serious because of danger of damage to vessels and nerves that run across flexor surface of elbow.Elbow injuries should always be splinted in most comfortable position and distal function clearly evaluated.Never attempt to straighten or apply traction to an elbow injury because tissues are quite delicate and structure is very complicated.Courtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-P
40 Extremity Trauma Forearm and wrist Fractures to forearm and wrist are very common, usually as a result of a fall onto outstretched arm.Usually, such a fracture is best immobilized with a rigid splint or an air splint.If a rigid splint is used, a roll of gauze in hand will hold arm in most comfortable position of function.Forearm is also subject to internal bleeding, which can interrupt blood supply to fingers and hand (compartment syndrome). Air splint helps to control bleeding.Courtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-PCourtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-P
41 Extremity Trauma Hand or foot Many industrial accidents involving hand or foot produce multiple open fractures and avulsions. These injuries are often gruesome in appearance but are seldom associated with life-threatening bleeding.A pillow may be used to support these injuries very effectively.An alternative method of dressing hand is to insert a roll of gauze in palm, then arrange fingers and thumb in their normal position. The entire hand is then wrapped as though it were a ball inside a very large and bulky dressing.Elevating isolated hand or foot injury above level of heart will almost always dramatically reduce bleeding during transport.Courtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-PCourtesy of Louis B. Mallory, MBA, REMT-P
42 Crush Injuries Frequent ongoing exams Alkalizing the blood Fluid resuscitationNaCO3 infusionOsmotic diureticsTourniquet useContact Medical Command earlyPerform frequent ongoing assessments and close monitoring of vital signs.Alkalizing the blood is necessary.Accomplished through delivery of large volumes of intravenous fluids.The addition of sodium bicarbonate to a bag of normal saline solution versus bolus administration is preferred.Osmotic diuretics such as Mannitol.If administration of fluids or medications prior to releasing the entrapped body area is not possible, consider application of a tourniquet proximal to the injury site on the extremity.Early contact with Medical Command or the receiving trauma facility is recommended for all patients who have experienced a crush injury.Frequent location for crush syndrome is calf area of lower extremities
43 Summary ITLS Primary Survey has priority Extremity trauma not usually life-threateningPelvic, femur fractures can be life-threateningProper splinting decreases further injuryDislocations of elbows, hips, knees:Careful splinting and rapid reduction to prevent severe disability to extremityWhile usually not life-threatening, extremity injuries are often disabling.These injuries may be more obvious than more serious internal injuries, but do not let extremity injuries distract you from following usual steps of ITLS Primary Survey.Pelvic and femur fractures can be associated with life-threatening internal bleeding, so patients with these injuries are in load-and-go category.Proper splinting is important to protect injured extremity from further injury.Dislocations of elbows, hips, and knees require careful splinting and rapid reduction to prevent severe disability to affected extremity.