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A crush injury is injury by an object that causes compression of the body.[1][2] This form of injury is rare in normal civilian practice, but are common following a natural disaster.[3] Other causes include industrial accidents, road traffic collisions, building collapse, accidents involving heavy plant, disaster relief or terrorist incidents.[4]

Crush injury
SpecialtyEmergency medicine




  • Hypovolaemic Shock. Loss of plasma volume across damaged cell membranes and capillary walls can lead directly to severe hypovolaemia.[4] Furthermore, shock can develop from myocardial depression following release of intracellular electrolytes. In addition, as a result of the mechanism of injury, blood loss from pelvic or long bone fractures may also co-exist
  • Hyperkalemia and Electrolyte imbalance. Disruption of cell membranes can result in a significant release of potassium, which is a largely intracellular cation that can precipitate cardiac arrest. Sequestration of plasma calcium into injured tissue can lead to a relative hypocalcaemia, which may worsen coagulopathy and shock. Metabolic acidosis may result from reperfusion injury and hypoperfusion related to shock.
  • Compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome is a common complication of crush injury as a consequence of oedematous tissue injury, redistribution of fluid into the intracellular compartment and haemorrhage. Established compartment syndrome may result in worsened systemic crush syndrome and irreversible muscle necrosis. [4]
  • Acute Renal Failure. Release of myoglobin by injured muscle leading to rhabdomyolysis coupled with shock leads to a significant rate of acute kidney injury, estimated as up to 15%,[5] acute kidney injury leads to a significantly higher mortality.


Crush Injury is damage to structures as a result of crushing. Crush syndrome is a systemic result of rhabdomyolysis and subsequent release of cell contents.[4]. The severity of crush syndrome is dependant on the duration and magnitude of the crush injury as well as the bulk of muscle affected. It can result from both short duration, high magnitude injuries (such as being crushed by a building) or from low magnitude, long duration injuries such as coma or drug induced immobility.[4]


Early fluid resuscitation reduces the risk of renal failure, reduces the severity of hyperkalaemia and may improve outcomes in isolated crush injury. [4]

For casualties with isolated crush injury who are haemodynamically stable, large volume crystalloid resuscitation reduces the severity of and prevents acute kidney injury.[5]


  1. ^ crush injury, Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010
  2. ^ Ron Walls; John J. Ratey; Robert I. Simon (2009). Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Expert Consult Premium Edition - Enhanced Online Features and Print (Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts & Clinical Practice (2 vol.)). St. Louis: Mosby. pp. 2482–3. ISBN 978-0-323-05472-0.
  3. ^ N.A. Jagodzinski; C. Weerasinghe; K. Porter (July 2011). "Crush injuries and crush syndrome—A review". Injury Extra. 42 (9): 154–5. doi:10.1016/j.injury.2011.06.368.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Greaves, I; Porter, K; Smith, JE (August 2003). "Consensus Statement On The Early Management Of Crush Injury And Prevention Of Crush Syndrome" (PDF). Faculty of Prehospital Care, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
  5. ^ a b Bartels S; VanRooyen M (2012). "Medical Complications Associated With Earthquakes". The Lancet. 379 (9817): 748–57. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60887-8. PMID 22056246.

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