Canadian Journal of Cardiology
Review| Volume 30, ISSUE 4, P396-404, April 2014

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Next-Generation Airbags and the Possibility of Negative Outcomes Due to Thoracic Injury

Published:January 09, 2014DOI:


      Airbags have been shown to decrease morbidity and mortality associated with motor vehicle accidents when used in conjunction with seat belts. Airbag deployment alone however, has recently been implicated as a cause of significant thoracic injuries to unrestrained drivers. Resulting injuries include major cardiovascular and pulmonary complications. Airbags provide safety to occupants of cars and reduce mortality by 25%-30%. When not used in accordance with international standards, however, they can cause serious injury. We searched online databases from 1970 to January 2013 and included 17 retrospective studies, 12 systematic review articles, 18 case reports, 5 prospective studies, 1 lab study, 3 cohort studies, and 1 meta-analysis. Outcomes included clinical/functional response, left ventricular remodelling, hospitalizations, and mortality. Physicians must maintain a high index of suspicion for injury when evaluating drivers who were not wearing seat belts when airbags deployed, regardless of the speed of the collision, because increased risk of thoracic injury with airbags has been described in the literature. Our review indicates that even new technology, specifically the side air bag, has been associated with a risk of thoracic injury. Considering that regulations are a driving force for airbag technology, further research and scrutiny by medical teams is needed to consider the effects of airbag technology advancements on morbidity and mortality rates of car accidents, to help in guiding further improvement, and to help lawmakers in implementing rules that protect the safety of occupants.


      Il a été démontré que les coussins gonflables diminuent la morbidité et la mortalité associées aux accidents d’automobile lorsqu’ils sont utilisés conjointement aux ceintures de sécurité. Cependant, le seul déploiement du coussin gonflable a récemment été reconnu comme ayant causé des blessures thoraciques importantes aux conducteurs qui ne bouclaient pas leur ceinture. Les blessures subies comprennent des complications cardiovasculaires et pulmonaires importantes. Les coussins gonflables assurent la sécurité des occupants des voitures et réduisent la mortalité de 25 % à 30 %. Cependant, lorsqu’ils ne sont pas utilisés selon les normes internationales, ils peuvent causer des blessures sérieuses. Nous avons cherché des bases de données en ligne allant de 1970 à janvier 2013 et avons inclus 17 études rétrospectives, 12 articles de revues systématiques, 18 observations, 5 études prospectives, 1 étude de laboratoire, 3 études de cohorte et 1 méta-analyse. Les résultats incluaient la réponse clinique et la réponse fonctionnelle, le remodelage ventriculaire gauche, les hospitalisations et la mortalité. Les médecins doivent maintenir un indice élevé de suspicion de blessures lorsqu’ils évaluent des conducteurs qui ne portaient pas leur ceinture lors du déploiement des coussins gonflables, quelle que soit la vitesse au moment de la collision, puisque l’augmentation du risque de blessures thoraciques liées aux coussins gonflables a été décrite dans la littérature. Notre revue indique que même la nouvelle technologie, particulièrement les coussins gonflables latéraux, a été associée à un risque de blessures thoraciques. Considérant que la réglementation est le principal moteur de la technologie liée aux coussins gonflables, d’autres recherches et études minutieuses doivent être réalisées par les équipes médicales pour examiner les effets des avancées technologiques en matière de coussins gonflables sur les taux de morbidité et de mortalité liés aux accidents de voiture afin de contribuer à l’orientation des nouvelles améliorations et d’aider les législateurs à mettre en place des règlements qui protègent la sécurité des occupants.
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