Trauma surgery

The science of the bleeding obvious!

Trauma surgery

Introduction

Traumatic injury is a leading global health problem. It is the number one cause of death worldwide for those aged 5 – 44 and kills over 18,000 people each year in the UK. The majority of trauma victims succumb to uncontrolled bleeding.

The Royal London Hospital is an internationally renowned trauma centre that cares for over 1,600 injury victims each year. Novel surgical techniques developed on the battlefield are refined and introduced into civilian practice at this institution. Strategic evaluation of modern blood transfusion paradigms, as well as novel therapeutics, has contributed considerably to the reduction in trauma mortality observed at this hospital.

How does it work?

In 2003, the research unit was the first to identify a rapid failure of the blood clotting mechanism in 25% of trauma victims. It is associated with increased blood loss, organ failure and four-fold increase in death after injury.  Investigation of this problem by the research scientists has identified a harmful anticoagulant pathway, mediated by blood clotting proteins that are functioning incorrectly.  The scientists have determined that this pathway is activated by tissue injury and bleeding, as seen in major trauma victims and are currently performing a variety of clinical and laboratory studies to further understand this condition and determine how best to treat it.

This exhibit will explain this failure in the body’s normal clotting function with the help of interactive models and video and demonstrate how better outcomes can be achieved with specialist surgical skills and resuscitation practices.

Videos

These videos introduce some of the work presented by this exhibit. The second video contains scenes that may be upsetting for some viewers.

Ask the scientists

Before the exhibition, visitors were invited to post questions about the science behind this exhibit. The comments are now closed, but you can speak to the scientists in person at the exhibition.