Crush injury and syndrome: A review for emergency clinicians

Brit Long, Stephen Y. Liang, Michael Gottlieb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: Primary disasters may result in mass casualty events with serious injuries, including crush injury and crush syndrome. Objective: This narrative review provides a focused overview of crush injury and crush syndrome for emergency clinicians. Discussion: Millions of people worldwide annually face natural or human-made disasters, which may lead to mass casualty events and severe medical issues including crush injury and syndrome. Crush injury is due to direct physical trauma and compression of the human body, most commonly involving the lower extremities. It may result in asphyxia, severe orthopedic injury, compartment syndrome, hypotension, and organ injury (including acute kidney injury). Crush syndrome is the systemic manifestation of severe, traumatic muscle injury. Emergency clinicians are at the forefront of the evaluation and treatment of these patients. Care at the incident scene is essential and focuses on treating life-threatening injuries, extrication, triage, fluid resuscitation, and transport. Care at the healthcare facility includes initial stabilization and trauma evaluation as well as treatment of any complication (e.g., compartment syndrome, hyperkalemia, rhabdomyolysis, acute kidney injury). Conclusions: Crush injury and crush syndrome are common in natural and human-made disasters. Emergency clinicians must understand the pathophysiology, evaluation, and management of these conditions to optimize patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-187
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Crush injury
  • Crush syndrome
  • Disaster
  • Earthquake


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