Category: Critical Care
Keywords: Modified Clamshell thoracotomy, resuscitative thoracotomy, randomized control trial (PubMed Search)
Resuscitative thoracotomy is a dramatic and heroic procedure used in the emergency department in an attempt to resuscitate a patient in arrest due to trauma. There are a few techniques commonly used, but due to the extreme nature of the procedure no prior randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been done.
The modified clamshell thoracotomy (MCT) is a technique in which the standard left anterolateral thoracotomy (LAT) is extended across the sternum, but does not involve surgical opening of the right chest. The MCT allows for increased visualization of the mediastinum and thoracic cavity structures.
Sixteen Emergency trained physicians (approximately half attending and half senior residents) from a level 1 trauma center underwent didactic and skill based training on both the MCT and LAT techniques using fresh, human cadavers. Following training they were randomized based on order of intervention, performing both techniques.
Their thoracotomies were assessed by a board certified surgeon and “success” was determined based on the complete delivery of the heart and cross clamping of the descending aorta.
Primary outcome: time to successful completion of procedure
Secondary outcomes: successful delivery of the heart from the pericardial sac (as well as time to delivery), cross clamping of the aorta (and time to clamping), procedural completion and number of iatrogenic injuries.
Overall, there was no statistical difference in primary outcome or successful completion between the MCT compared to the LAT (67% vs. 40%). However, 100% of the LAT resulted in some form of iatrogenic injury (rib fractures, lacerations of the diaphragm,/esophagus/heart/lung) compared to 67% of the MCT technique. There was no associated difference in success when previous experience (attending vs. senior resident) were compared. Lastly, MCT was the favored technique of the majority of the study subjects.
Prospective Randomized Trial of Standard Left Anterolateral Thoracotomy Versus Modified Bilateral Clamshell Thoracotomy Performed by Emergency Physicians. Ann Emerg Med. 2021 Mar;77(3):317-326 doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2020.05.042nnemergmed.2020.05.042Prospective Randomized Trial of Standard Left Anterolateral Thoracotomy Versus Modified BiProspective Randomized Trial of Standard Left Anterolateral Thoracotomy Versus Modified Bilateral Clamshell Thoracotomy Performed by Emergency Physicians. Ann Emerg Med. 2021 Mar;77(3):317-326 doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2020.05.042lateral Clamshell Thoracotomy Performed by Emergency Physicians. Ann Emerg Med. 2021 Mar;77(3):317-326 doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2020.05.042