ATLS ® is a systematic approach (developed by of The American College of Surgeons) to identify and urgently treat life threatening injuries It is essential for all trauma patients.
Our summary does not substitute for attendance at a formal ATLS course, which is strongly recommended for all who care for injured patients.
These following issues are addressed in sequence:
A = Airway, with cervical spine protection
B = Breathing
C = Circulation & bleeding control
D = Disability (Neurologic) status
E = Exposure (undressing) and Environment
This is followed by the secondary survey. Both primary and secondary survey should be surveys competed before the patient has time to deteriorate physiologically, the so called "golden hour".
Before proceeding with definitive repairs, the patient must be fully resuscitated, fully evaluated, and fit for anesthesia and surgery by a prepared team.
|ATLS step number 1|
Prompt correction of airway obstruction to restoring respiratory function.
|ATLS step number 2|
Uncorrected respiratory failure is rapidly fatal.
|ATLS step number 3|
After respiratory failure, circulatory failure is the next rapidly fatal condition.
|ATLS step number 4|
Some traumatic brain injuries require urgent surgery. Correction of respiratory and circulatory abnormalities takes precedence.
|Exposure and environmental control|
|ATLS step number 5|
Clothing removal is necessary to avoid missing injuries. Hypothermia interferes with trauma resuscitation.
|Basic surgical experience, no specialized skills|
|Some specialized surgical experience|
|Highly experienced and skilled surgeon|
|Basic equipment only|
|Simple surgical and imaging resources|
|Full specialized surgical and imaging resources|