Penetrating Neck Trauma


This is a recommended algorithm of the Western Trauma Association for the management of penetrating neck trauma that has penetrated the platysma muscle of the neck. Because of the paucity of recent prospective randomized trials on the evaluation and management of penetrating neck injury, the current algorithm and recommendations are based on available published prospective cohort, observational, and retrospective studies and the expert opinion of the Western Trauma Association members. The algorithm (Fig. 1.) and accompanying text represents a safe and reasonable approach to this difficult injury type and attempts to incorporate the advent of recent advances in radiographic screening and selective or expectant management practice. We recognize that there will be variability in decision making, local resources, institutional consensus, and patient-specific factors that may require deviation from the algorithm presented. This annotated algorithm is meant to serve as a basis from which protocols at individual institutions can be developed or serve as a quick bedside reference for clinicians. The algorithm contains letters A through J, which correspond to the lettered text. Their purpose is to succinctly navigate the reader thru the algorithm and discuss those points, which require further elucidation or where data are lacking.1-3