Episode 77 – My First Crush w/Chris Stevenson


Though the incidents of crush injuries may be low in frequency, major crush injury syndrome is associated with a high mortality rate. In this podcast episode, we sit down with regular guest, Chris Stevenson, to discuss the “why”. We highlight the pathophysiology behind re-perfusion injury and pre- and post-treatment options.


Main Points:

Major Crush Injury/syndrome:

Can happen in as little as 20 mins depending on force and size of muscle group.

Re-perfusion of crushed area can result in massive edema causing hypovolemia as well as release of myoglobin and potassium.

  •             Myoglobin cast formation and hypovolemia result in renal injury/failure
  •             Potassium can be elevated to levels causing cardiac toxicity and fatal arrhythmias

Injury is proportionate to the amount of involved muscle, time of compression and amount of force.

Due to the muscle mass involved, lower extremities are more likely cause complications.

Treatment centers around the restoration of volume loss prevention/treatment of renal injury and the management of hyperkalemia.

Renal injury prevention/volume loss:

  •             Blood products if indicated due to suspected or frank bleeding from injuries.
  •             Crystalloid volume resuscitation with isotonic fluids: none have shown superiority.
    •                         LR
    •                         Saline
    •                         D5 with 3 amps of bicarb
  •             Alkalization of urine with sodium bicarb to prevent urine cast formation (casts are more likely in an acidic environment)

While likely not part of pre-hospital care, diuretics may also be used to promote urine output in conjunction with volume resuscitation. Frequently used options include:

  •             Furosemide
  •             Acetazolamide
  •             Mannitol

No diuretic has shown superiority and each has unique properties that may guide use.

Hyperkalemia: suspected by history or evidenced by changes in ECG

  •             Calcium-chloride is 3x more potent than gluconate-but ideally is give via central line
  •            Insulin and D50
  •             Albuterol
  •             Kayexalate
  •             Hemodialysis


Chris Stevenson, AGACNP-BC, RN, EMT-B is Chief Flight Nurse at Virginia State Police Med-Flight and an ACNP at VCU’s Burn Center. Med-Flight operates under part 91. Their primary mission is conducting scenes and inter-facility medevacs, but they are also tasked with SAR and Police missions. Amongst his vast experience, he had the privilege of admitting patients from the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon while working in DC, and he responded to Katrina to support FEMA search operations. He’s done some time in operations as well as management.

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