Thursday, 27 August 2009

Patient: Abdominal Wound

Bob, normally healthy 23 year old male presenting with abdominal stab wound. Unconscious, Pulse 150, BP 60/30, Resps 27. Appears diaphoretic and ashen.

This is a patient we saw(minus a few identifying facts) in A&E. I thought I would outline how we treated him.

He was clearly in hypovolemic shock. His blood pressure was incredibly low so his heart couldnt pump the oxygenated blood to his cells. To attempt to compensate for this his pulse increased. We start getting concerned when a patients pulse exceeds their systolic blood pressure, its a sign of acute shock. In order to keep pace with the heart and oxygenate the increasing blood flow(increasing at first) his breathing became shallow and rapid. However long before this he would have passed out, Its not clear weather this is another one of the bodies failsafes or just coinsidence but an important step in immediate treatment of shock is to lay the patient down, preferably with their feet up so as much blood as possible is flowing to the brain. His blood vessels would contract in order to attempt to compensate for the plumetting blood pressure this would have caused the ashen appearance.

Going back to basics.

Airway/Breathing - the patient had a patent airway but his oxygen intake from the shallow breaths was insufficient so we placed him on highflow oxygen(15litres via non-rebreathe mask).
Circulation - We applied a heavy dressing and applied as much pressure as we could in order to slow down the blood loss. We obtained venus access. This was particularly difficult as he was peripherally shut down. We then pumped as much saline and gelofusin into his veins as possible increasing his circulating blood volume and taking blood for typing. Short term its important to increase the circulating volume with anything we have at our disposal, it will increase the blood pressure and hopefully decrease resp and pulse rates. Long term however the lack of red blood cells will cause hypoxia(among other things) despite the high flow oxygen. At this point several units of blood for transfusion appeared and he was deemed stable enough to risk surgery to repair the damage caused by the knife.

All this happened in a very short period of time, the patient survived(surprisingly).

No comments: