Penetrating cardiac stab wounds: A case report with management algorithm and review of the literature

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Antonino M. Grande
Filippo Antonacci
Paolo Aseni *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Paolo Aseni |


A 57-year-old man attempted a suicide self-inflicting multiple scissors stab wounds in the chest. At the scene, Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (FAST) showed an important left pleural effusion and pericardial fluid. Computed Tomography Angiography confirmed the pericardial effusion. The patient underwent immediate surgery. Three epicardial wounds of the anterior surface of the right ventricle were identified, one of which was actively bleeding. The lesion was sutured, the patient recovered uneventfully, and on the sixth postoperative day was transferred to a psychiatric unit. At 6-month follow-up, he is doing well and has returned to work. We discuss the importance of FAST for an early diagnosis of chest penetrating trauma leading to a rapid life-saving cardiac procedure and propose a clinical-based protocol for the management of patients with suspected penetrating cardiac injury which we have applied in our service for last six years. Midline sternotomy should be considered the incision of choice in patients with penetrating trauma in the cardiac box with evidence of injury to the heart and great vessels. Emergency Department Thoracotomy can be a possible option for those patients with impending cardiac arrest despite adequate resuscitation.

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