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First Aid/Neck Wounds and Survivability


The other day I was watching the new TV show ĎHannibalí and one of the characters had the right side of her throat slit a little less than half way (Iím assuming it was the external carotid artery cut), I would say the cut looks around 3 and half inches or so. All that left me wondering what the probability of surviving a wound like that is and what type of medical treatment you would receive, in real life.

The character is in her late teens and looks pretty healthy, if thatís a factor in the survival rate. She lost a lot of blood but the wound was pressurized by another character and the ambulance got to her in a very quick amount of time. Later in the show, she is in a comatose like state. I donít know if that is from the wound or if it would be medically induced for a few days.

I remember hearing about a hockey player who had his jugular vein slashed by a skate and another who had his external carotid artery slashed, too and they both survived. But what are the odds of surviving that kind of wound?

Hello CC,

The wound is survivable as long as pressure is held immediately on the wound and the patient is kept laying flat or slightly head down. As for the coma, possibly they were sedated after reaching the hospital?

I hope that answers your question, I know it was short but I believe, to the point.


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Marcus LaBarbera


I am available to answer most questions related to: first aid, pre- hospital medicine, EMT and Paramedic questions, medical transport, critical care transport, ICU/CCU care, sedation, and medicine in general.


I have worked as a NYS Paramedic since 1993 for both community based ambulance companies and large commercial agencies. I Have experience as bike team commander, and shift supervisor for a commercial ambulance. As a member of the Disaster team I was deployed to Louisiana for 20 days following hurricane Katrina. I worked along side the county Haz-Mat team as a "Tox-Medic" with advanced training in treating injuries from chemical agents. Besides my experience on the on the ambulance I have worked in a number of hospital based offices including dialysis and a sleep lab.

I started my EMS career as a NYS CFR (Certified First Responder)in 1989, an EMT in 1991, a Paramedic since 1993, and a CCU transport paramedic since 2005. I currently hold certification as a: NYS Paramedic, Critical Care Transport Paramedic, ACLS/CPR/PALS certified. Advanced Haz-Mat Life Support certified (AHLS). In the past I have taught CPR and ACLS to my coworkers and the local community.

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