Crush injury

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.
  • 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 bleeding. Established compartment syndrome may result in worsened systemic crush syndrome and irreversible muscle cell death.[4]
  • Acute Kidney Injury. Release of myoglobin by injured muscle leads 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 the body as a result of being crushed by an object. Crush syndrome is a systemic result of skeletal muscle injury and breakdown and subsequent release of cell contents.[4] The severity of crush syndrome is dependent 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 kidney 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 fluid resuscitation reduces the severity of and reduces the risk of 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. 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. 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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