Blunt chest injury, Blunt cardiac trauma, End-of-life care, "Hydraulic ram", ventricular rupture



  1. Van Horn, Jeffrey M. RN, BSN, CEN, CCRN


Cardiac trauma fatalities occur in 22% of victims of motor vehicle crash. Blunt cardiac trauma may result in myocardial rupture. Mechanisms of injury include compression, deceleration, laceration, and "hydraulic ram" effect. Diagnosis is difficult because of coexisting injuries and the lack of evidence-based protocols. Physiological changes in the elderly and the presence of comorbid illness result in poor survival rates when myocardial rupture occurs. Trauma nurses must be prepared to provide end-of-life care related to the poor outcome associated with myocardial rupture. This case study reports a right ventricular rupture in an elderly patient involved in a frontal motor vehicle crash.