Trauma Surgery

Essentia's trauma surgeons specialize in providing immediate diagnosis and surgical intervention for patients who have suffered a severe blunt or penetrating trauma such as a car accident, fall, stab wound or gunshot. They also provide emergency surgical services for patients with conditions such as appendicitis or bowel obstructions.

The main goals of our trauma surgery team are to preserve life and achieve the best health outcome for the patient. Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center is a Level I Trauma Center and is the only Essentia facility that offers 24/7 trauma surgery.

What's a Trauma Surgeon?

A trauma surgeon is a general surgeon was has undergone additional specialized training in surgical critical care.

When Trauma Surgery is Needed

Most critically ill and injured patients arrive in the emergency department via helicopter or ambulance. While en route, paramedics will call the emergency department to alert the staff that they are bringing in a trauma patient.

Depending on the nature of the patient's injuries, a trauma team, including a trauma surgeon may be waiting in the ER when the patient arrives. Members of the ER and trauma team will work together to stabilize the patient, assess their condition, and determine what treatment is needed. If necessary, the trauma surgeon will perform surgery.

If necessary, the trauma surgeon will perform surgery. Trauma surgeons often collaborate with other surgical specialists, such as cardiothoracic surgeons, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons.

Follow-Up Care

After surgery, most patients stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) where they receive close, 24/7 monitoring. When a patient's condition improves, they can move to another floor in the hospital to complete their recovery.

Throughout their stay, a patient's care team will meet in their room for daily rounds to discuss the patient's condition and care plan. Family members may attend and ask questions.

When a patient is ready to be discharged from the hospital, their care team will assist in developing a plan for them to safely return home or to a skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation center.

Frostbite Prevention and Treatment

Learn how to prevent frostbite and what Essentia providers do to treat it. 

Medical Insight: Frostbite tPA - Essentia Health Video Transcript

Text, Medical Insight. The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health

SPEAKER: Welcome to Medical Insight, a weekly health-care feature brought to you by the experts at Essentia Health. Here's your host, Louie St. George. LOUIE ST. GEORGE: Today on Medical Insight, Dr. Mark Scott, a trauma surgeon at Essentia Health, talks about frostbite. MARK SCOTT:

Outdoors, a woman and man blow into their bare hands.

If a person is wearing appropriate winter attire with gloves, boots, warm socks, long underwear, scarves, hats, things like that, the onset of frostbite can be greatly slowed, whereas a direct exposure of naked skin to the elements can produce frostbite injuries within minutes. If you or someone you know thinks that you may have experienced a frostbite injury, getting prompt medical attention can mean the difference between recovering from the injury, potentially with minimal long-term effects, versus something as catastrophic as losing fingers, or toes, or an entire hand or foot to amputation. LOUIE ST. GEORGE: At Essentia, one treatment for frostbite as a drug called alteplase, which alleviates blood clots. MARK SCOTT: Using alteplase allows us to break down that clot and restore blood flow.

In an animation, red cells move through a vessel.

And it's been shown to be very effective at saving people's fingers, or toes, or even more major injuries, and avoiding the need for amputation. It's sort of paradoxical, but the times where we oftentimes see the most cases are actually at the beginning and end of the winter. When it's minus 30 outside, most people have the good sense to bundle up when they go outside. LOUIE ST. GEORGE: Wind can greatly accelerate the onset of frostbite. For Medical Insight, I'm Louie St. George.

Text, Medical Insight, Essentia Health. The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle.

SPEAKER: To learn more about this and other health topics, Visit

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