• Penetrating cardiac injuries frequently first appear in an unusual and insidious manner, and their diagnosis may not be immediately obvious. In a series of 20 cases of cardiac injury, ten cases were indicative of such subtle symptoms, several of which were life-threatening. These unusual manifestations can be categorized as early, intermediate, or late. Early problems of four patients included the following: (1) sudden onset of shock during laparotomy, performed due to apparent abdominal trauma; (2) cardiac arrest on arrival in the emergency room; and (3) cerebral air embolus that mimicked symptoms of possible irreversible anoxic brain damage. The intermediate manifestations of cardiac injury are usually discovered in the early recovery period, and include myocardial infarction with cardiogenic shock and bullet embolus to a peripheral artery. Intermediate manifestations were observed in two patients. Four patients had late complications that included pseudoaneurysm, ventricular septal defect, valvular damage, and recurrent pericarditis. These late complications were observed between one month and 21 years after cardiac injury. This indicates the necessity of long-term follow-up of these patients.
(Arch Surg 110:1357-1362, 1975)