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Research: Unexpected Diaphragmatic Hernia Among Patients Undergoing Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery for Internal Fixation of Rib Fractures

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Research: Unexpected Diaphragmatic Hernia Among Patients Undergoing Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery for Internal Fixation of Rib Fractures

Am Surg

. 2022 Apr;88(4):618-622. doi: 10.1177/00031348211050574. Epub 2021 Nov 29. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34839727/

Unexpected Diaphragmatic Hernia Among Patients Undergoing Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery for Internal Fixation of Rib Fractures

John R Murfee 1Kaitlin E Pardue 1Paige Farley 1Nathan M Polite 1Maryann I Mbaka 1Andrew C Bright 1Christopher M Kinnard 1Jon D Simmons 1C Caleb Butts 1Affiliations expand

Abstract

Traumatic blunt diaphragm injuries are a diagnostic challenge in trauma. They may be missed due to the increasing trend of non-operative management of patients. The purpose of this study was to review the rate of occult blunt diaphragm injuries in patients who underwent video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for rib fixation. This retrospective study included patients that received VATS as part of our institutional protocol for rib fracture management. This includes utilizing incentive spirometry, multimodal analgesia, and early consideration for VATS. Data was abstracted from the electronic medical record and included demographics, operative findings, and outcomes. Thirty patients received VATS per our rib fracture protocol. No patients had any identified diaphragm injury on pre-operative imaging. A concomitant diaphragm injury was identified in 20% (6/30) of the study population. All patients were alive at 30 days. For all patients, total hospital length of stay was 14.5 days, ICU length of stay was 8.9 days, and average ventilator days was 4.2 days. When comparing patients with and without concomitant diaphragm injuries, hospital length of stay was 16.8 days vs. 14.5 (P = 0.59), ICU length of stay was 11.8 days vs. 8.2 (P = 0.54), and ventilator days was 4.5 days vs. 4.2 (P = 0.93). This study revealed that 20% of patients undergoing VATS for rib fracture fixation had a concomitant diaphragm injury. This higher-than-expected prevalence suggests that groups of patients sustaining blunt trauma may have occult diaphragmatic injuries that are otherwise unidentified. This raises the need for improved diagnostic modalities to identify these injuries.

Keywords: blunt diaphragmatic injury; rib fractures; surgical stabilization of rib fractures; video-assisted thoracic surgery.

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