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Management of Traumatic Vascular Injuries to the Neck: A 7-Year Experience at a Level I Trauma Center

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Injury to the carotid artery results in significant mortality and morbidity. The general consensus is to repair all injuries to the common and internal carotid arteries. Ligation is usually reserved for neurologic or hemodynamic instability. We report our experience at a Level I trauma center with vascular injuries to the neck. Retrospective chart review of all patients with vascular injuries in the neck resulting from either blunt or penetrating trauma treated at a Level I trauma center between January 2000 and February 2007. Demographics and outcomes were collected from a chart review. Twenty-five patients with vascular injuries to the neck were identified. There were 13 carotid artery injuries (CAI), five internal jugular vein (IJV) injuries, and 13 external jugular vein (EJV) injuries. Of the carotid artery injuries, six (50%) underwent operative repair (4 primary repairs and 2 bypasses), five (38%) were managed nonoperatively, and one was treated using endovascular techniques. No patient had a postoperative decrease in Glasgow Coma Scale score. There were five isolated IJV injuries (3 primary repair and 2 ligations). Four of the venous injuries (all internal jugular veins) were repaired and the remaining 13 were ligated. Vascular injuries to the neck have significant mortality and morbidity. Treatment of these injuries must be individualized. All CAI in noncomatose patients should be repaired if hemodynamically stable. All IJV injuries should be repaired but may be ligated if hemodynamically unstable. All EJV injuries can be ligated without reservation regardless of neurological status.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, USA 2: Department of Surgery, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi, USA 3: Division of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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