In the ER, Plastic Surgeons Play An Important Role

In the emergency room, the role of a plastic surgeon is becoming increasingly important, according to a new study out of Istanbul, Turkey. To analyze the role of plastic surgery, doctors looked back on over 10,000 patients who had been admitted for emergency plastic surgery at a single hospital. Factors such as patient age, gender and reason for treatment were evaluated.

It isn’t difficult to understand why the skills of a plastic surgeon would be valuable in the ER. Many board certified plastic surgeons today have training in complex techniques like microsurgery, wound care, hand surgery and facial reconstruction.

According to the study, these specialized techniques proved most useful in cases of injury to the head, neck, upper extremities, lower extremities and soft tissues.

Upper extremity injuries were found to be the most common indication for emergency plastic surgery, followed by head/neck injury and lower body injury. They write:

Among the 10,732 cases admitted to our emergency outpatient clinic between 2000 and 2004, upper extremity injuries were present in 64% of the patients. Twenty-five percent of the patients admitted to emergency plastic surgery clinics had head-and-neck injuries, and 37% had tissue defects of the lower extremities and trunk.

The patients, mostly young adult males, were often admitted to the ER because of an accident of some kind. Traffic accidents, burns, glassware cuts and other incidents were among the reasons.

You might assume that an American plastic surgeon working in the ER would have a slightly different focus, but according to the ASPS statistics, the most common emergency treatments look very similar. In 2010, some of the most frequently performed reconstructive surgeries included:

  • Laceration repair (355, 601 procedures)
  • Dog bite repair (32, 961 procedures)
  • Burn Care (19,369 procedures)
  • Hand surgery (105, 711 procedures)

You can read the entire study referenced here, “The practice of plastic surgery in emergency trauma surgery” through Pubmed.


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