Complex trauma

Complex trauma (also referred to as 'polytrauma' or 'multiple trauma') in a surgical sense describes any situation where a person has sustained multiple, often life-threatening injuries. The most common scenario in civilian life is a motor vehicle accident, but injuries from blasts, falls from a height and injuries from natural disasters are other examples of causes of multiple trauma.

In these types of situations, multiple bones in the body may be broken and fractures may be complex and severe. At the same time there may internal bleeding, damage to internal organs, burns and potentially brain damage.

Most patients arrive at an emergency department needing immediate treatment than spans across a range of medical disciplines, and the job of the emergency department trauma team is to identify as quickly as possible which injuries are the ones that need to be treated immediately in order to save the patient's life and which ones can wait. The team comprises surgeons and other medical specialists who specialise in complex trauma and whose role it is to prioritise treatments and stabilise the patient.

From an orthopaedic point of view it is important for x-rays to be taken of the patient as soon as practicable to identify any dislocations or bone fractures so that these can be addressed quickly – it is standard practice for x-rays and CT scans of the cervical spine, pelvis and chest to be done straightaway for this reason.

Medical specialists who work in emergency departments and deal with complex trauma are specially trained to work together in a multidisciplinary team to give patients the best possible chance of a full recovery. Dr Moopanar will be involved in your care from the time you are admitted into the emergency department and will be part of the multidisciplinary team managing your injury/s acutely and thereafter overseeing your rehabilitation to good health.