Updated: 8/10/2019

Neck Trauma

Topic
Review Topic
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Questions
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Evidence
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Overview
 

 
Snapshot
  • A 27-year-old male is brought in to the ED after being found down in front of his apartment. The neighbors report that the patient was a stabbing victim, and a small knife was found on the left neck by EMS and left in place. En route, the patient’s blood pressure is 91/53 mmHg, pulse is 110/min, respirations are 21/min, and oxygen saturation is 95% on room air with GCS of 15. On exam, there is a small knife on the lateral left neck above the sternal notch with a large hematoma that feels pulsatile. There are decreased breath sounds on the left apical lung. There are also multiple stab wounds and lacerations on his back. 
Introduction
  • Neck trauma can be described neck zones
    • zone I: base of neck (thoracic inlet to cricoid cartilage)
    • zone II: midportion of neck (cricoid to angle of mandible)
    • zone III: superior aspect of neck
  • Mechanism of injury can determine zones and layers of neck involved
Presentation
  • Airway injury
    • larynx
      • history: strangulation, direct blow, blunt trauma, any penetrating injury involving platysma
      • triad: hoarseness, subcutaneous emphysema, palpable fracture crepitus
      • other symptoms: hemoptysis, dyspnea, dysphonia
    • trachea/bronchus
      • history: deceleration, penetration, increased intrathoracic pressure
      • symptoms: dyspnea, hemoptysis
      • exam: subcutaneous emphysema, Hamman's sign (crunching sound synchronized to heart beat)
  • Pharynx/esophageal injury
    • hematemesis, difficulty swallowing, saliva exiting out of the wound, pneumomediastinum
  • Vascular injury
    • most common injury with penetrating neck trauma
    • hematoma, absent carotid pulse, bruit, shock
  • Nerve injury
    • vagus, spinal accessory, hypoglossal, phrenic nerves are at risk
    • symptoms associated with the specific nerve damaged
Management
  • General approach
    • patient should be transported to a trauma center. Meanwhile, immobilize neck to prevent further injury 
    • primary survey
      • if penetrating neck trauma present, do NOT:
        • clamp structures (high risk of nerve damage)
        • probe with finger
        • insert nasogastric tube (risk of perforation/bleeding)
        • remove weapon/impaled object in the ED
      • presence of hemodynamic instability or “hard signs” of tissue injury prompt surgical intervention 
        • hard signs include
          • vascular injury
            • pulsatile bleeding, expanding hematoma, bruit, signs of cerebral ischemia, absent carotid pulse
          • aerodigestive injury
            • bubbling from the wound, hoarseness, stridor, subcutaneous emphysema, respiratory distress
    • secondary survey
      • imaging
        • CXR and CT scan
        • asymptomatic patients may have time for CT angiogram, esophagoscopy or bronchoscopy to fully characterize extent of injury and dictate further management  
 

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Questions (3)
Lab Values
Blood, Plasma, Serum Reference Range
ALT 8-20 U/L
Amylase, serum 25-125 U/L
AST 8-20 U/L
Bilirubin, serum (adult) Total // Direct 0.1-1.0 mg/dL // 0.0-0.3 mg/dL
Calcium, serum (Ca2+) 8.4-10.2 mg/dL
Cholesterol, serum Rec: < 200 mg/dL
Cortisol, serum 0800 h: 5-23 μg/dL //1600 h:
3-15 μg/dL
2000 h: ≤ 50% of 0800 h
Creatine kinase, serum Male: 25-90 U/L
Female: 10-70 U/L
Creatinine, serum 0.6-1.2 mg/dL
Electrolytes, serum  
Sodium (Na+) 136-145 mEq/L
Chloride (Cl-) 95-105 mEq/L
Potassium (K+) 3.5-5.0 mEq/L
Bicarbonate (HCO3-) 22-28 mEq/L
Magnesium (Mg2+) 1.5-2.0 mEq/L
Estriol, total, serum (in pregnancy)  
24-28 wks // 32-36 wks 30-170 ng/mL // 60-280 ng/mL
28-32 wk // 36-40 wks 40-220 ng/mL // 80-350 ng/mL
Ferritin, serum Male: 15-200 ng/mL
Female: 12-150 ng/mL
Follicle-stimulating hormone, serum/plasma Male: 4-25 mIU/mL
Female: premenopause: 4-30 mIU/mL
midcycle peak: 10-90 mIU/mL
postmenopause: 40-250
pH 7.35-7.45
PCO2 33-45 mmHg
PO2 75-105 mmHg
Glucose, serum Fasting: 70-110 mg/dL
2-h postprandial:<120 mg/dL
Growth hormone - arginine stimulation Fasting: <5 ng/mL
Provocative stimuli: > 7ng/mL
Immunoglobulins, serum  
IgA 76-390 mg/dL
IgE 0-380 IU/mL
IgG 650-1500 mg/dL
IgM 40-345 mg/dL
Iron 50-170 μg/dL
Lactate dehydrogenase, serum 45-90 U/L
Luteinizing hormone, serum/plasma Male: 6-23 mIU/mL
Female: follicular phase: 5-30 mIU/mL
midcycle: 75-150 mIU/mL
postmenopause 30-200 mIU/mL
Osmolality, serum 275-295 mOsmol/kd H2O
Parathyroid hormone, serume, N-terminal 230-630 pg/mL
Phosphatase (alkaline), serum (p-NPP at 30° C) 20-70 U/L
Phosphorus (inorganic), serum 3.0-4.5 mg/dL
Prolactin, serum (hPRL) < 20 ng/mL
Proteins, serum  
Total (recumbent) 6.0-7.8 g/dL
Albumin 3.5-5.5 g/dL
Globulin 2.3-3.5 g/dL
Thyroid-stimulating hormone, serum or plasma .5-5.0 μU/mL
Thyroidal iodine (123I) uptake 8%-30% of administered dose/24h
Thyroxine (T4), serum 5-12 μg/dL
Triglycerides, serum 35-160 mg/dL
Triiodothyronine (T3), serum (RIA) 115-190 ng/dL
Triiodothyronine (T3) resin uptake 25%-35%
Urea nitrogen, serum 7-18 mg/dL
Uric acid, serum 3.0-8.2 mg/dL
Hematologic Reference Range
Bleeding time 2-7 minutes
Erythrocyte count Male: 4.3-5.9 million/mm3
Female: 3.5-5.5 million mm3
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (Westergren) Male: 0-15 mm/h
Female: 0-20 mm/h
Hematocrit Male: 41%-53%
Female: 36%-46%
Hemoglobin A1c ≤ 6 %
Hemoglobin, blood Male: 13.5-17.5 g/dL
Female: 12.0-16.0 g/dL
Hemoglobin, plasma 1-4 mg/dL
Leukocyte count and differential  
Leukocyte count 4,500-11,000/mm3
Segmented neutrophils 54%-62%
Bands 3%-5%
Eosinophils 1%-3%
Basophils 0%-0.75%
Lymphocytes 25%-33%
Monocytes 3%-7%
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin 25.4-34.6 pg/cell
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration 31%-36% Hb/cell
Mean corpuscular volume 80-100 μm3
Partial thromboplastin time (activated) 25-40 seconds
Platelet count 150,000-400,000/mm3
Prothrombin time 11-15 seconds
Reticulocyte count 0.5%-1.5% of red cells
Thrombin time < 2 seconds deviation from control
Volume  
Plasma Male: 25-43 mL/kg
Female: 28-45 mL/kg
Red cell Male: 20-36 mL/kg
Female: 19-31 mL/kg
Cerebrospinal Fluid Reference Range
Cell count 0-5/mm3
Chloride 118-132 mEq/L
Gamma globulin 3%-12% total proteins
Glucose 40-70 mg/dL
Pressure 70-180 mm H2O
Proteins, total < 40 mg/dL
Sweat Reference Range
Chloride 0-35 mmol/L
Urine  
Calcium 100-300 mg/24 h
Chloride Varies with intake
Creatinine clearance Male: 97-137 mL/min
Female: 88-128 mL/min
Estriol, total (in pregnancy)  
30 wks 6-18 mg/24 h
35 wks 9-28 mg/24 h
40 wks 13-42 mg/24 h
17-Hydroxycorticosteroids Male: 3.0-10.0 mg/24 h
Female: 2.0-8.0 mg/24 h
17-Ketosteroids, total Male: 8-20 mg/24 h
Female: 6-15 mg/24 h
Osmolality 50-1400 mOsmol/kg H2O
Oxalate 8-40 μg/mL
Potassium Varies with diet
Proteins, total < 150 mg/24 h
Sodium Varies with diet
Uric acid Varies with diet
Body Mass Index (BMI) Adult: 19-25 kg/m2
Calculator

(M2.ET.4686) A 45-year-old female presents to the emergency room as a trauma after a motor vehicle accident. The patient was a restrained passenger who collided with a drunk driver traveling approximately 45 mph. Upon impact, the passenger was able to extricate herself from the crushed car and was sitting on the ground at the scene of the accident. Her vitals are all stable. On physical exam, she is alert and oriented, speaking in complete sentences with a GCS of 15. She has a cervical spine collar in place and endorses exquisite cervical spine tenderness on palpation. Aside from her superficial abrasions on her right lower extremity, the rest of her examination including FAST exam is normal. Rapid hemoglobin testing is within normal limits. What is the next best step in management of this trauma patient? Review Topic

QID: 107375
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CT cervical spine

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Remove the patient’s cervical collar immediately

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Discharge home and start physical therapy

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Consult neurosurgery immediately

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Initiate rapid sequence intubation.

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M2

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PREFERRED RESPONSE 1

(M2.ET.4685) A 27 year-old-male presents to the Emergency Room as a code trauma after being shot in the neck. En route, the patient’s blood pressure is 127/73 mmHg, pulse is 91/min, respirations are 14/min, and oxygen saturation is 100% on room air with GCS of 15. On physical exam, the patient is in no acute distress; however, there is an obvious entry point with oozing blood near the left lateral neck above the cricoid cartilage with a small hematoma that is non-pulsatile and stable since arrival. The rest of the physical exam is unremarkable. Rapid hemoglobin returns back at 14.1 g/dL. After initial resuscitation, what is the next best step in management? Review Topic

QID: 107360
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MRI

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Plain radiography films

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Conventional angiography

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CT angiography

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Bedside neck exploration

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PREFERRED RESPONSE 4

(M2.ET.52) A 21-year-old man presents to the emergency department after sustaining a stab wound to the neck at a local farmer's market. The patient is otherwise healthy and is complaining of pain. The patient is able to offer the history himself. His temperature is 97.6°F (36.4°C), blood pressure is 120/84 mmHg, pulse is 90/min, respirations are 15/min, and oxygen saturation is 98% on room air. Physical exam demonstrates a 3 cm laceration 1 cm inferior to the mastoid process on the right side. The patient's breath sounds are clear and he is protecting his airway. No stridor or difficulty breathing is noted. Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in the management of this patient? Review Topic

QID: 106350
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Arteriography

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CT angiogram

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Intubation

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Observation and blood pressure monitoring

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Surgical exploration

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PREFERRED RESPONSE 2
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