Penetrating injury discussed at inaugural Rao R. Ivatury Trauma Symposium

The inaugural Rao R. Ivatury Trauma Symposium in May brought the leading experts in trauma care from around the country together to focus on the “Good, the Bad and the Ugly” sides of penetrating injuries.

The symposium, held at the Downtown Richmond Marriott, was the first time the annual event – hosted by the Virginia Commonwealth University Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency Surgery – was held in its new name in recognition of Rao R. Ivatury, M.D., former chair of the division

“It is truly a privilege and an honor,” said Ivatury of the symposium’s new name. “My professional achievements are a testament to the love and support from my family and the hard work and contributions of my colleagues and residents.”

Ivatury was appointed as professor of surgery in the VCU School of Medicine and chair of the Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency Surgery at VCU in 1998. During his time at VCU he also served as the program director for the paramedic training program and the surgical critical care fellowship. He retired in 2012, and in 2013 he was appointed professor emeritus in the Department of Surgery.

“During his tenure at the VCU Medical Center, Dr. Ivatury elevated the VCU trauma program to new heights in national and international academic recognitions,” said Michel Aboutanos, M.D., who holds Ivatury’s former position. “He always finds time to be available for students, faculty and staff and to share his profound wisdom and knowledge.”  

Attendees at the symposium learned about a wide range of current challenges and solutions in penetrating trauma management. One topic included advocacy strategies for the health care professional regarding gun control, presented by William Schwab, M.D., director of the Firearm Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Schwab reminded those present that 100,000 people are maimed, killed or otherwise injured by guns each year in the United States. As tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre show, small children are not immune to this violence. In fact, American children younger than 15 years old are 12 times more likely to die from a firearm-related death than those in other industrialized nations.  

The type of firearm used is what most affects the outcome of the injury. Schwab discussed the impact of semiautomatic pistols, which greatly increase the chance of death at the scene of the shooting. He also covered the medical advances that have been made to improve the chance of survival and recovery from firearm-related injuries. He said trauma centers may reduce the number of deaths overall, but physical and economic costs must be taken into consideration.

Other lectures focused on history rather than current trauma, including a talk by James Neifeld, M.D., Stuart McGuire Professor and chair, Department of Surgery at VCU, on “Penetrating Injury and the Civil War.” He discussed trauma care in 1861 and the changes in trauma triage and care due to the Civil War. He also told attendees how the Civil War influenced modern medicine.

Other presentations included:

  • Thomas Scalea, M.D., professor of surgery and director, MIEMSS at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, discussed when to operate on penetrating injuries to the neck.

  • Aurelio Rodriguez, M.D., professor of surgery at the Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, Penn., lectured on penetrating injuries to the chest.

  • Andrew Peitzman, M.D., professor and chief, Division of General Surgery and executive vice chairman, Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, discussed penetrating injuries to the abdomen.

  • David Feliciano, M.D., chief of the Department of Surgery at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, discussed penetrating peripheral vascular trauma.


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Michel Aboutanos, Rao Ivatury and Aurelio Rodriguez
Michel Aboutanos, Rao Ivatury and Aurelio Rodriguez