Evaluation of Vascular Injury in Penetrating Extremity Trauma: Angiographers Stay Home

Conrad, Mark F.; Patton Jr., Joe H.; Parikshak, Manesh; Kralovich, Kurt A.
March 2002
American Surgeon;Mar2002, Vol. 68 Issue 3, p269
Academic Journal
The debate over the use of diagnostic angiography (DA) to exclude arterial injury in penetrating extremity trauma (PET) continues. This review evaluates our current protocol for PET and identifies indications for DA. Patients presenting to our urban Level I trauma center between January 1997 and September 2000 with PET were included. Demographic data, emergency department (ED) course, and patient follow-up were reviewed. ED evaluation directed by physical examination (PE) included Doppler pressure indices (DPI) and DA if indicated. A total of 538 patients had PET injuries. Twenty (4%) patients with hard signs of vascular injury were taken to the operating room. Ninety-one (17%) patients without vascular compromise underwent operative procedures or were admitted for other injuries. One hundred twenty-three (23%) patients with nonproximity wounds were discharged. Four DAs were performed for abnormal DPI with no change in management. Three hundred patients with a negative PE and normal DPI were discharged from the ED. Follow-up was available on 51 per cent of these patients (range 1-49 months) with no missed injuries identified. We conclude that PE with DPI is an appropriate way to identify significant vascular injuries from PET. Patients with normal PE and DPI can be safely discharged. DA is only indicated for asymptomatic patients with abnormal DPI.


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