Why are knives dangerous?
Trauma surgeon "Never pull out the knife"
Trauma surgeon over stab wounds
Clock • Berlin
Attacks with knives are particularly dangerous. Why this is so and what a knife wounds in the body, explains Stefan Schulz-Drost, senior physician in trauma surgery at the Berlin accident hospital. Stefan Kegel spoke to him.
Dr. Schulz-Drost, why are stab wounds so dangerous?
Stab wounds can injure deep organ structures beyond the visible injuries to the skin. If a vessel is hit, the person will bleed to death. If it hits the main artery, it happens within a few minutes. Fortunately, it is relatively well protected by the rib cage. Hence, this complication is very rare.
Which parts of the body are most at risk?
If it hits arms or legs, a stab with a knife can lead to loss of function, for example if nerves or blood vessels have been hit. The closer you get to the trunk, the more dangerous it gets, because that's where the vital organs are located and the vessels get bigger and bigger. If the coronary arteries are injured, the bleeding can cause the heart to become crushed and stop beating. If the lungs are injured, the affected lung can collapse. With every breath, air enters the chest, but it cannot escape because the wound acts like a valve. The blood circulation is literally squeezed off by the resulting pressure. But the neck and groin are also at risk.
How can you help someone who has been stabbed with a knife?
First of all it is important to pay attention to your own protection so that you do not get hit yourself and to alert the rescue as soon as possible. It is very important not to pull out the knife that may still be in the body. This can have caused serious internal injuries. As long as it is in the body, however, it usually acts like a kind of plug.
What is the risk of dying from such an injury?
Stab and gunshot wounds make up around five percent of all injuries treated by trauma surgeons. According to statistics, around six to seven percent of the seriously injured die from it. However, if the heart was hit, the death rate skyrocketed to more than two thirds.
Are there age groups who are particularly often admitted to your clinic with stab wounds?
No, that goes from young adults up to old age. Most of the cases are victims of domestic violence and people who tried to kill themselves. But we also get completely uninvolved victims of all ages who were stabbed on the street on the operating table.
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