Tetanus: 20 years of clinical experience.

C. H. Chao, K. W. Yu, C. Y. Liu, D. L. Cheng, L. S. Wang, W. W. Wong

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Abstract

Tetanus remains a life-threatening disorder and its fulminating course always presents a challenge to the clinician. We retrospectively evaluated 56 patients with tetanus admitted to VGH-Taipei between 1971 and 1990. All of these patients with tetanus on admission showed typical features, with the most common initial complaints being lockjaw and dysphagia (82.6%). They were diagnosed on clinical identification rather than isolation of the causative agent. The laboratory tests were usually nonspecific and of limited value for diagnosis. Overall, 38 patients were seized with tetanus after an identified wound infection. The most common routes were puncture wound (28.3%) and abrasion wound (19.6%). The majority of patients became symptomatic within 10 days (56.5%) and the shorter interval reflected a more overwhelming course (p less than 0.05). Intravenous drug abusers and larger wounds had a poorer prognosis. The average mortality was 39.1% (18 out of 46 patients; male/female 12/6), with lack of statistical difference between sex and mortality (p greater than 0.5). The course of tetanus in the newborn and elderly was also more deadly (mortality rates of 83.3% and 55.6% respectively). Aspiration pneumonia and subsequent respiratory failure accounted for the most common cause (11 cases, 61.1%) of death. The mortality was still high (28.6%) from 1980-90 even with better supportive care and modern therapeutic equipment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-115
Number of pages6
JournalChinese Medical Journal (Taipei)
Volume48
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1991
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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Chao, C. H., Yu, K. W., Liu, C. Y., Cheng, D. L., Wang, L. S., & Wong, W. W. (1991). Tetanus: 20 years of clinical experience. Chinese Medical Journal (Taipei), 48(2), 110-115.