Vascular injuries after blunt chest trauma: diagnosis and management
- Equal contributors
1 Program in Ttauma, R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, Baltimore, USA
2 Department of Surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA
Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 2009, 17:42 doi:10.1186/1757-7241-17-42Published: 14 September 2009
Although relatively rare, blunt injury to thoracic great vessels is the second most common cause of trauma related death after head injury. Over the last twenty years, the paradigm for management of these devastating injuries has changed drastically. The goal of this review is to update the reader on current concepts of diagnosis and management of blunt thoracic vascular trauma.
A review of the medical literature was performed to obtain articles pertaining to both blunt injuries of the thoracic aorta and of the non-aortic great vessels in the chest. Articles were chosen based on authors' preference and clinical expertise.
Blunt thoracic vascular injury remains highly lethal, with most victims dying prior to reaching a hospital. Those arriving in extremis require immediate intervention, which may include treatment of other associated life threatening injuries. More stable injuries can often be medically temporized in order to optimize definitive management. Endovascular techniques are being employed with increasing frequency and can often significantly simplify management in otherwise very complex patient scenarios.