While none of the editors of InsideSurgery.com are involved in their care, we have noted with interest that actor George Clooney and passenger Sarah Larson were both injured today when a car collided with the motorcycle they were riding on. Clooney was treated for a broken rib and Larson was treated for a broken foot at Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, New Jersey.
Driving or riding on a motorcycle is incredibly, horribly dangerous. Even if the driver is safe and sober, the most minor of collisions can result in devastating injuries. A description of a common injury pattern suffered by a motorcyclist when struck by a car going 45 mph or a truck going 30 mph includes:
Tibial plateau fracture – this is a fracture just below the knee caused by the bumper of the car or truck crushing the leg against the body of the motorcycle.
Intracranial bleeds – this can be subdural, subarachnoid, or frontal bleeds. This occurs from the head striking the pavement. It is important to know that wearing a helmet really provides minimal protection against this injury.
Diffuse axonal injury – this can occur with intracranial bleeds and causes brain damage usually, up to and including a chronic vegetative state. It is caused by different parts of the brain hurtling against the inside of the skull at different rates of speed. One should avoid at all costs any situation where this injury could result.
Foot fractures – this occurs when the rider is thrown from the bike and lands with feet or legs “caught up under” their body.
Ruptured bladder – this injury occurs when riders are flipped over the handlebars of the their bikes and land on their backs. It can be hard to diagnose and sometimes presents when patients show up the next day in the ER being unable to void with a distended abdomen.
Complex pelvic fractures – these occur if the patient is thrown and lands on the hips or on their side. The oval bony ring of the pelvis cracks like a hardboiled egg. These are worrisome to trauma surgeons because if the disruption is severe enough it is easily possible to bleed to death from these fractures. They typically require extensive surgery by a pelvic orthopedic specialist or an external fixator for months.
Amputated limbs – usually the legs from devastating femur fractures.
Degloving injuries – these are burst fractures of the skin and soft tissue when riders land on hard surfaces and are marked by tissue loss. It is comparable to dropping a watermelon from a three story building. The mass of the watermelon disintegrates on contact.
Let us hope that this “close call” and very unusual injury pattern (a single broken rib) will cause Clooney to come to his senses and never again get on a motorcycle. Better still would be if became a spokesman and began speaking out about the dangers of riding these death machines.
Copyright 2007 InsideSurgery.com