Mediator-dependent secondary injury after unilateral blunt thoracic trauma

Sherry M. Melton, Kimberly A. Davis, Charles B. Moomey, Timothy C. Fabian, Kenneth G. Proctor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The pathophysiologic sequence leading to respiratory failure after chest trauma can be an inevitable consequence of the primary injury or a secondary, mediator-driven inflammatory process. To distinguish between these alternatives, a simple cross-transfusion experiment was performed. A captive bolt gun injured the chest of anesthetized pigs that were mechanically ventilated with Fio2 = .21, .50, or .50 plus indomethacin (5 mg/kg intravenous; 15 min before injury). Tube thoracostomy immediately followed. After 30 min, blood from these injured donors was transfused into three matched groups of naive recipients (n = 8, 6, and 4, respectively) for a 33% exchange transfusion. Two control groups received blood from uninjured donors with tube thoracostomies only (Fio2 = .21, n = 7; Fio2= .50, n = 10). Within 15-30 min after transfusion, in recipients from injured donors versus controls, lung compliance was decreased 20%, stroke volume and cardiac output were decreased 50%, and pulmonary vascular resistance was increased >300% (all p < .05). These changes recovered to baseline within 60-90 min. The stable metabolite of thromboxane A2, thromboxane B2, increased >500% in plasma within 15 min and remained elevated for >120 min. All responses were similar at 21% or 50% O2, which suggests that hypoxia per se is not a cause of mediator production. All responses were eliminated by indomethacin. By 24 h, histologic changes included atelectasis in 3/3 recipients from injured donors versus 0/3 recipients from uninjured donors. We conclude that 1) blunt chest trauma releases blood borne mediators, including prostanoids; 2) these mediators can cause secondary cardiopulmonary changes in naive recipients similar to those produced by chest trauma; 3) the progression to trauma-induced respiratory failure is multifactorial; 4) early pharmacologic intervention, rather than supportive care alone, may benefit some victims of severe chest trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-402
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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