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Changing patterns of arterial injuries associated with fractures and dislocations



Changing patterns of arterial injuries associated with fractures and dislocations



Journal of the American College of Surgeons 183(4): 377-383



Significant changes occurred over a 4.5-year period in the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of arterial injuries associated with skeletal fractures of the extremities. The trauma registry data of 1,091 consecutive patients with fractures, dislocations, or both, were reviewed for the diagnosis of associated arterial injury documented by arteriography or an exploratory operation. The decision to perform a vascular repair was based solely on the presence of definitive signs of arterial injury found during physical examination. Arterial injuries occurred in 41 patients (3.8 percent). Of these, 29 (71 percent) had penetrating injuries, and 12 (29 percent) had blunt trauma. Twenty-six patients (63 percent) had definitive signs of arterial injury and all required arterial repairs. Only three patients (7.3 percent), all with blunt injuries, required amputations because of massive soft tissue trauma. Fifteen patients had intimal flaps, irregularities, or localized narrowings shown on the arteriogram. No patient's condition had deteriorated by the time of a repeat arteriogram (n = 6) or physical examination (n = 9), and no injury required delayed repair (mean follow-up of 6.5 months). No patient without definitive signs of vascular injury at the time of initial examination required surgical repair. Arterial injuries associated with fractures increasingly result from penetrating trauma and carry a much lower risk of amputation than injuries from blunt trauma. Physical examination can accurately detect 100 percent of the arterial injuries requiring repair. Minimal arterial abnormalities seen on arteriograms may be safely followed up by observation.

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Accession: 045482260

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PMID: 8843267


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