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Evaluation of the criteria for angiotomography indications in the diagnosis of carotid and vertebral arterial injury associated with blunt trauma

World Journal of Emergency Surgery
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1186/1749-7922-5-17
  • Research Article
  • Medicine


Background Blunt carotid and vertebral artery injury (BCVI) occur infrequently. The incidence of this type of injury is difficult to determine as many emergency room patients are neurologically asymptomatic. The statistics have not been reported in Brazil. The objectives of the current study were: To evaluate the accuracy of criteria used to recommend angiotomography in the diagnosis of cervical BCVI in 100 patients with blunt cervical trauma in the trauma services section of a Brazilian quaternary care hospital. Methods During a 30-month (2006-2008), all patients admitted to the emergency room of Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo with blunt cervical trauma and potential risk of cervical vessel injury, were subjected to cervical angiotomography to diagnose BCVI. The data analyzed are presented as mean ± standard deviation, and statistical analyses included Chi-square and Fisher's exact tests, and the Mann-Whitney test. Results During the study period 2467 blunt trauma patients were admitted. In 100 patients that met the criteria for inclusion in the study, angiotomography identified 23 with BCVI, including 17 males and six females. The mean patient age was 34.81 ± 14.84 years. Car crash (49%) and car-pedestrian accidents (24%) were the most frequent causes of injury. Ten patients had internal carotid artery injuries, two patients had common carotid artery injuries, and 11 patients had vertebral artery injuries. Seven patients presented with Degree I arterial injuries, 10 patients presented with Degree II artery injuries, four patients presented with Degree IV artery injuries, one patient presented with a Degree V artery injury, and one patient had a carotid fistula. Seven out of the 23 patients with BCVI (30.4%) presented with cervical vertebrae fractures, and 11 out of the 23 patients with BCVI (47.8%) presented with facial fractures (LeFort II and III). Conclusions Although there is no consensus regarding the criteria that should be used to indicate angiotomography for BCVI diagnosis, we conclude that the criteria used in the current study led to a diagnosis of BCVI in 0.93% of 2,467 trauma patients, BCVI injuries were associated with more severe traumas and did not affect mortality.

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