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Case report
Pulmonary embolism occurring early after major trauma
  1. Paschalitsa Serchan1,
  2. George Shorten2,
  3. Michael Maher3 and
  4. Stephen P Power4
  1. 1 Anaesthesiology, Cork University Hospital Group, Cork, Ireland
  2. 2 Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland
  3. 3 Department of Radiology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  4. 4 Radiology, HSE South, Cork, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paschalitsa Serchan, litsaserchan{at}


Pulmonary embolism (PE) secondary to trauma is the third most common cause of death in trauma patients who have survived 24 hours following injury. We describe a case of PE diagnosed within 3 hours of a major trauma in a previously well adolescent female. The early occurrence of PE in this case is at odds with what is generally reported (3–5 days) after major trauma. General consensus is that patients who suffer major trauma move from an initial hypocoaguable state, with increased risk of bleeding, to normocoagulable or hypercoaguable state, with a subsequent increased risk of venothromboembolism. However, Sumislawski et al recently demonstrated that a marginally greater proportion of trauma patients were in fact hypercoaguable rather than hypocoaguable on arrival to hospital and that trauma-induced coagulopathy tended to resolve within 24 hours; such data cause us to re-evaluate when to commence thromboprophylaxis for major trauma patients.

  • trauma
  • pulmonary embolism
  • orthopaedic and trauma surgery
  • anaesthesia
  • radiology
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  • Contributors All the four authors participated in the care of the patient described in this case and also each contributed to the writing and editing of the case report submitted. PS led the manuscript preparation and participated in its conception. GS contributed to the conception of the idea and planning and design of the case report. MM contributed to the diagnosis, data collection and data interpretation. SPP contributed to the diagnosis, data collection and data interpretation.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

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