Management of lower extremity arterial trauma

Larry C. Martin, Mark G. McKenney, Jorge L. Sosa, Enrique Ginzburg, Ivan Puente, Danny Sleeman, Robert Zeppa

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85 Scopus citations


Extremity vascular trauma is common in most urban trauma centers and controversy remains about the optimal management of arterial injuries. We examined the records of 188 patients who had lower extremity arterial trauma from September 1987 to April 1992 to help clarify these issues. There were 142 (75.5%) gunshot wounds, 18 (9.6%) stab wounds, 5 (2.7%) shotgun wounds, and 23 (12.2%) patients with blunt trauma. There were 43 (22.9%) associated venous injuries. There were 10 repair failures in the acute postoperative period. There were no repair failures for the iliac artery. Three failures involved the superficial femoral artery (SFA), six were popliteal, and one tibial. Vein and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) grafts were used to repair the SFA with equal success. Repair of the popliteal artery with PTFE failed in four of five cases, while vein grafts failed in only 2 of 19 cases (p < 0.01). Graft failure was associated with blunt trauma in 8 of 23 patients (35%), and always resulted in amputation. Penetrating injuries accounted for only 2 of 165 (1.2%) failures and were successfully redone with no amputations. Venous injury was present in all SFA failures. Popliteal vein injury was present in two PTFE and two vein grafts that failed. There were no infections of vein or PTFE grafts. In conclusion, PTFE and vein have equal graft patency for the repair of the iliac and femoral arteries. However, the patency of PTFE was significantly worse in the popliteal location. Vein grafts should be used for repair of this vessel. Graft failure and amputation were more common with popliteal and tibial injuries from blunt mechanisms. Finally, PTFE is safe to use in what may be considered a contaminated field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-599
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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