A preliminary analysis of aortic injuries in lateral impacts

Injuries to the aorta are among the more serious injuries that result from vehicle impacts, and often may be fatal. This article examines the incidence of aortic injuries in the United States and United Kingdom by using two international databases of real-world crashes. The main outcome of interest was the level of risk associated with each principal direction of force for drivers and front-seat passengers with respect to sustaining aortic injuries. The results indicate that the risk of sustaining an injury to the aorta is greater for near-side crashes than for far-side crashes. Further it is apparent that, given a near-side crash, the risk of an aortic injury is greater on the left side of the body (and left side of the vehicle) than on the right. It also was found that the delta-V of crashes where occupants sustained an injury to the aorta was considerably higher than crashes where occupants did not sustain aortic injuries. It is speculated that the anatomical asymmetry of the thorax might play a role in the differences seen in injury risk associated with different impact directions. The results presented in this article could be of use to both the emergency physician treating patients involved in motor vehicle collisions as well as the engineer involved in occupant design countermeasures. Limitations and further planned research are discussed.