Damage control orthopaedics: State of the art.


Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Hospital Costa del Sol, University of Malaga, Marbella 29603, Malaga, Spain. [Email]


Damage control orthopaedics (DCO) originally consisted of the provisional immobilisation of long bone - mainly femur - fractures in order to achieve the advantages of early treatment and to minimise the risk of complications, such as major pain, fat embolism, clotting, pathological inflammatory response, severe haemorrhage triggering the lethal triad, and the traumatic effects of major surgery on a patient who is already traumatised (the "second hit" effect). In recent years, new locations have been added to the DCO concept, such as injuries to the pelvis, spine and upper limbs. Nonetheless, this concept has not yet been validated in well-designed prospective studies, and much controversy remains. Indeed, some researchers believe the indiscriminate application of DCO might be harmful and produce substantial and unnecessary expense. In this respect, too, normalised parameters associated with the acid-base system have been proposed, under a concept termed early appropriate care, in the view that this would enable patients to receive major surgical procedures in an approach offering the advantages of early total care together with the apparent safety of DCO. This paper discusses the diagnosis and treatment of severely traumatised patients managed in accordance with DCO and highlights the possible drawbacks of this treatment principle.


Compartment syndrome,Damage control orthopaedics,Early appropriate care,Early total care,Embolisation,External fixation,Packing,Polytrauma,Resuscitation,