Aggressive management of vascular injuries of the thoracic outlet

C. E. Hyre, D. F. Cikrit, S. G. Lalka, A. P. Sawchuk, M. C. Dalsing, J. J. Schuler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations


Purpose: We present a review of 35 patients who underwent an operation for subclavian (n = 18) or axillary (n = 17) vessel injury. In some patients, both an artery and a vein were damaged, resulting in a total of 30 arterial and 16 venous injuries. Methods: The wounding source included a gunshot (n = 19), a stab wound (n = 9,) and blunt trauma (n = 7). Seven patients had hypotension and were taken immediately to the operating room. Seventeen patients had diminished or absent pulses, whereas 13 patients had normal pulses despite an arterial injury. Associated injuries included nerve injury (n = 15), pneumohemothorax (n = 5), and fractures (n = 7). Angiography in 21 patients demonstrated an intimal flap (n = 8), extravasation (n = 5), a pseudoaneurysm (n = 3), an arteriovenous fistula (n = 2), and occlusion (n = 1). Two angiograms were normal. Arterial repair was accomplished by interposition graft (n = 17), primary repair (n = 9), patch angioplasty (n = 3,) and ligation (n = 1). Results: No functional deficits occurred in patients with an isolated vascular injury. Seven patients with associated brachial plexus injuries experienced severe disability. One arm of a patient was amputated. Two patients died. Conclusions: The use of angiography helps to confirm and localize injuries. Prompt correction of the vascular injury avoids disability resulting from ischemia. Although the amputation rate is low with vascular repair, the functional disability resulting from associated nerve injuries can be devastating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)880-885
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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