Aortic injuries in side impacts: a preliminary analysis

Injuries to the aorta are among the more serious injuries that result from vehicle impacts, and may often be fatal. This paper examined the incidence of aortic injuries in the US and UK using real-world crash data. 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 was also 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 was speculated that the anatomical asymmetry of the thorax might play a role in the differences seen in injury risk associated with different impact directions. Limitations and further planned research are discussed.