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Clinical course of 91 consecutive near-drowning victims. FREE TO VIEW

J H Modell; S A Graves; A Ketover
Chest. 1976;70(2):231-238. doi:10.1378/chest.70.2.231
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Abstract

Hospital records of 91 consecutive near-drowning victims were studied retrospectively. Eight-one (89 percent) of these patients survived. Patients who were alert on arrival at the emergency room survived, but those who were comatose and had fixed dilated pupils died. Other states of consciousness were unreliable predictors of survival. All patients with a normal chest roentgenogram on admission survived; however, values for arterial oxygen tension (PaO2) did not necessarily correlate with the chest roentgenograms. Values for arterial blood gas tensions and pH varied widely, as follows; PaO2, 25 to 465 mm Hg; arterial carbon dioxide tension (PaCO2), 17 to 100 mm Hg; pH, 6.77 to 7.50; and arterial bicarbonate level, 6.6 to 29.7 mEq/L. The ratio of PaO2 to the fractional concentration of oxygen in the inspired gas (FIo2), which was calculated to standardize PaO2 data for varying concentrations of inspired oxygen, ranged from 30 to 585 mm Hg. Only one patient with a ratio of PaO2/FIo2 greater than 150 mm Hg on admission subsequently died; this was a neurologic rather than a pulmonary death. Serum electrolytic concentrations and values for hemoglobin level and hematocrit reading neither predicted survival nor indicated that a threat to life existed. Steroid and prophylactic antibiotic therapy did not appear to increase the chance of survival. Observations on these patients are discussed in light of previous experiments in animals, and an approach to therapy is suggested.


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