Obstetrical Trauma: Reducing the Burden of Trauma Transfer to Tertiary Care Centers

Document Type


Publication Date



Trauma & Acute Care Surgery

Journal Title

The American surgeon


BACKGROUND: In rural state trauma systems, management of the obstetrical trauma patient often defaults to transfer to level I trauma centers. We evaluate the necessity of transferring obstetrical trauma patients without severe maternal injury. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective 5-year review of obstetrical trauma patients admitted to a rural state-level I trauma center was conducted. Injury severity measures such as abdominal AIS, ISS, and GCS were correlated with outcomes. Furthermore, the impact of maternal and gestational age on uterine compromise, uterine irritability, and the need for cesarean section intervention are presented. RESULTS: Twenty-one percent of patients were transferred from outside facilities with a median age of 29 years, average ISS of 3.9 ± 5.6, GCS of 13.8 ± 3.6, and abdominal AIS of 1.6 ± .8. Outcomes included maternal fatality of 2%, fetal demise of 4%, 6% experienced premature rupture of membranes, 9% experienced fetal placental compromise, 15% had uterine contractions, 15% of cesarean deliveries, and fetal decelerations occurred in 4%. Predictors of fetal compromise are strongly associated with high maternal ISS and low GCS. DISCUSSION: The frequency of traumatic injury in this unique population of patients is fortunately limited. The best predictor for fetal demise and uterine irritability is maternal injury severity, measured by ISS and GCS. Therefore, without severe maternal trauma, obstetrical trauma patients with minor injuries can safely be managed at non-tertiary care facilities with obstetrical capabilities.

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