Skip to content


Volume 22 Supplement 1

London Trauma Conference 2013

  • Poster presentation
  • Open Access

Incidence of clotted haemopericardium in traumatic cardiac arrest in 152 thoracotomy patients

  • 1,
  • 1,
  • 1 and
  • 1
Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine201422 (Suppl 1) :P20

  • Published:


  • Significant Percentage
  • Retrospective Data
  • Meet Inclusion Criterion
  • Cardiac Tamponade
  • Clinical Note


The incidence of haemopericardium in traumatic cardiac arrest is unknown. Treatment for cardiac tamponade has moved from needle pericardiocentesis to open thoracotomy. This small study aims to validate this swing in practice. London’s Air Ambulance (LAA) has been performing emergency thoracotomies for traumatic cardiac arrest since 1993 [1].


A five year retrospective trauma database search (01/01/08 to 18/09/13) was carried out for all performed clamshell thoracotomies (n=166) by LAA. Presence of clotting, patient demographics, clinical notes and follow-up data was collected and analysed.


After exclusion of 14 patients 152 patients met inclusion criteria. Of these cases, 61 (40.1%) had no pericardial tamponade, 79 (52.0%) had tamponade and 12 (7.9%) had no available data. Of the patients with confirmed pericardial tamponade, 39 (47.6%) had clotted blood within the pericardial sac. 12 patients (14.6%) it was positively confirmed as fluid blood only. 28 patients (34.1%) there was no description.


Current ATLS and ERC guidelines emphasise the use of emergency thoracotomy in lieu of pericardiocentesis in this population [3]. Our retrospective data shows that a significant percentage of tamponades (47%) are clotted haemopericardium and the shift in trauma management is appropriate.

Authors’ Affiliations

London’s Air Ambulance, London, UK


  1. Davies GE, Lockey DJ: Thirteen Survivors of Prehospital Thoracotomy for Penetrating Trauma: A Prehospital Physician-Performed Resuscitation Procedure That Can Yield Good Results. J Trauma. 2010Google Scholar
  2. Hunt PA, Greaves I, Owens WA: Emergency Thoracotomy in thoracic trauma – a review. Injury. 2006, 37: 1-19.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Soar J, et al: ERC Guidelines. 2010, 1420f-Section 8, []Google Scholar


© Manz et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.