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Indexed/Abstracted in: BIOSIS Previews, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 1,632
Online ISSN 1827-191X
Rambaud G., Desachy A., François B., Allot V., Cornu E. *, Vignon P.
From the Intensive Care Unit
*Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Dupuytren University Hospital, Limoges (France)
Cardiac tamponade is an uncommon complication of blunt chest trauma, resulting typically from hemorrhage into the pericardial space. We report a case of hemodynamic compromise secondary to an extrapericardial compression caused by the acute formation of a retrosternal hematoma associated with a sternal fracture. The patient was involved in a violent deceleration accident. Initially, he only complained of an anterior thoracic pain, but subsequently became restless, pale, and dyspneic. A severe hypotension associated with sinus bradycardia (45 bpm) rapidly occurred. Both jugular veins became markedly turgescent, but no significant pulsus paradoxus was noted. Echocardiography disclosed a large hematoma, compressing anteriorly both the right ventricular cavity and outflow tract. Surgical evacuation of the retrosternal hematoma related to a bifocal fracture of the manubrium was followed by instantaneous hemodynamic improvement. Regional extrapericardial tamponade secondary to the acute formation of compressive retrosternal hematoma is an unusual cause of circulatory failure after severe blunt chest trauma. Since conventional clinical signs associated with typical tamponade physiology may be lacking in this setting, echocardiography is ideally suited for early recognition of this unusual condition.