Surgical and critical care management of earthquake musculoskeletal injuries and crush syndrome: A collective review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Earthquakes are unpredictable natural disasters causing massive injuries. We aim to review the surgical management of earthquake musculoskeletal injuries and the critical care of crush syndrome. We searched the English literature in PubMed without time restriction to select relevant papers. Retrieved articles were critically appraised and summarized. Open wounds should be cleaned, debrided, receive antibiotics, receive tetanus toxoid unless vaccinated in the last 5 years, and re-debrided as needed. The lower limb affected 48.5% (21.9%-81.4%) of body regions/patients. Fractures occurred in 31.1% (11.3%-78%) of body regions/patients. The most common surgery was open reduction and internal fixation done in 21% (0%-76.6%), followed by plaster of Paris in 18.2% (2.3%-48.8%), and external fixation in 6.6% (1%-13%) of operations/patients. Open fractures should be treated with external fixation. Internal fixation should not be done until the wound becomes clean and the fractured bones are properly covered with skin, skin graft, or flap. Fasciotomies were done in 15% (2.8%-27.2%), while amputations were done in 3.7% (0.4%-11.5%) of body regions/patients. Principles of treating crush syndrome include: (1) administering proper intravenous fluids to maintain adequate urine output, (2) monitoring and managing hyperkalemia, and (3) considering renal replacement therapy in case of volume overload, severe hyperkalemia, severe acidemia, or severe uremia. Low-quality studies addressed indications for fasciotomy, amputation, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Prospective data collection on future medical management of earthquake injuries should be part of future disaster preparedness. We hope that this review will carry the essential knowledge needed for properly managing earthquake musculoskeletal injuries and crush syndrome in hospitalized patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-79
Number of pages13
JournalTurkish Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Acute compartment syndrome
  • acute kidney injury
  • critical care
  • crush syndrome
  • disaster
  • earthquake
  • injury
  • orthopedics
  • surgery
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Surgical and critical care management of earthquake musculoskeletal injuries and crush syndrome: A collective review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this