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Arterial Injuries Associated with Blunt Fractures in the Lower Extremity

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Problems related to the combination of an arterial injury and a blunt fracture in the lower extremity are well known—delayed diagnosis, damaged soft tissue, and high amputation rate. The actual incidence of this injury pattern is, however, unknown. The purposes of this study were to determine the current incidence of named arterial injuries in patients with blunt fractures in the lower extremities and assess potential associated risk factors. This was a 7-year (2007‐2013) retrospective review of patients ≥18 years with blunt lower extremity fractures at a Level I trauma center. Fracture location and concomitant arterial injury were determined and patients stratified by age, gender, and injury velocity. Low injury velocity was defined as falls or assaults, whereas an injury secondary to a motorized vehicle was defined as high velocity. A total of 4413 patients (mean age 52.2 years, 54.3% male, mean Injury Severity Score 13.1) were identified. Forty-six patients (1.04%) had arterial injuries (20.4% common femoral, 8.2% superficial femoral, 44.9% popliteal, and 26.5% shank). After stratifying by age and injury velocity, younger age was associated with a significantly higher rate of vascular injury. For high-velocity injuries, there was no difference based on age. In conclusion, the prevalence of arterial injury after blunt lower extremity fractures is 1.04 per cent in our study. A significant paradoxical relationship exists between age and associated arterial injuries in patients with low-velocity injuries. If these data are confirmed in future studies, a low index of suspicion in patients >55 years after falls is appropriate.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Indiana Unversity School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Publication date: 01 September 2016

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