Traumatic Lower Extremity Vascular Injuries and Limb Salvage in a Civilian Urban Trauma Center

Eva Urrechaga, Sinan Jabori, Naixin Kang, Stefan Kenel-Pierre, Alberto Lopez, Rishi Rattan, Jorge Rey, Arash Bornak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Data on management of traumatic lower extreity arterial injuries comes largely from military experience and involves few civilian centers. This study reports on the experience of an urban trauma center and factors associated with limb loss. Methods: A retrospective review of lower extremity arterial injuries between 2013 and 2020 at an academic urban level 1 trauma center was completed. Patients with lower extremity revascularization were included in the final data analysis. Demographics, clinical variables, operative details, type of revascularization, as well as 30-day morbidity and postoperative outcomes were analyzed. The primary outcome of interest was 30-day limb loss. Secondary outcomes included postoperative complications and functional outcomes. Results: Seventy-five patients were included in our analysis. Sixty-nine were male (92%), mean age 33 ± 15 years, 50 patients had penetrating trauma (67%), mean injury severity score was 15 ± 9. Thirty-day limb loss was reported in 8 (11%). Factors associated with limb loss included female sex (P = 0.001), high body mass index (P = 0.001), blunt injury (P = 0.001), associated fractures (P = 0.005), significant soft tissue injury (P = 0.007), delayed repair after shunt placement (P = 0.003), bypass revascularization (P = 0.001), initial revascularization failure (P = 0.019), and wound complications (P < 0.001). Fifty-five patients had at least one return to the operating room (ROR), including 24 patients (32%) for complications related to their revascularization. These included delayed compartment syndrome (n = 7), revascularization failure (n = 9), bleeding (n = 3), and vascular surgical wound complications (n = 5). Mean length of hospital stay (LOS) for the cohort was 24 ± 20 days with 3 ± 3 ROR, in contrast patients who ultimately required amputation had LOS of 57 ± 21 days with 8 ± 4 ROR. Fifty-seven patients (76%) followed in clinic for a median 36 [14–110] days, with only 32 (43%) at >30 days. Twenty-three reported ambulation without assistance, 9 neuromotor deficit including 1 patient that had delayed amputation. Conclusion: Patients with blunt trauma and associated fracture and/or extensive soft tissue injury are at risk of limb loss. These injuries are often associated with postoperative wound complications, requiring aggressive soft tissue care that substantially increases ROR and LOS; Expectations for limb salvage in these patients should be tempered when the other associated factors with limb loss mentioned above are also present. When limb salvage is achieved, regaining full limb function remains a challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial injury
  • Arterial trauma
  • Lower extremity trauma
  • Revascularization bypass
  • Traumatic limb loss
  • Vascular injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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