Traumatic Perforation of the Diaphragm



ABSTRACT: To ascertain our experience with traumatic perforations of the diaphragm, we reviewed the charts of 72 patients treated over a ten-year period. From January 1975 through June 1984, 58 male patients and 14 female patients, ranging in age from 6 to 72 years, were treated for traumatic perforations of the diaphragm. These injuries resulted from gunshot wounds in 44 patients (61%), stab wounds in 13 (18%), blunt trauma in 11 (15%), and shotgun wounds in four (6%). Seventy-three percent of the injuries were to the left hemidiaphragm, 26% to the right, and 1% to both. Signs and symptoms were unreliable for making the diagnosis of perforation. Diagnosis depended mainly on preoperative chest roentgenograms (especially for those caused by blunt trauma), thorough intraoperative exploration, and a high index of suspicion. Overall mortality was 7%, but death was usually more readily attributable to associated injuries than to the diphragmatic injuries.

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