Background: Temporary arterial shunts maintain perfusion while surgeons postpone arterial repairs. The common indications are combined orthopedic and vascular injuries and damage control. The duration of patency and the need for systemic anticoagulation remain in question. We examined our experience for answers.
Methods: We searched for patients who had temporary arterial shunts and collected the following: mechanism, artery injured, shunt time, blood loss and transfusions, injury severity score (ISS,) mangled extremity severity score (MESS,) and anticoagulation.
Results: Of 19 patients, 10 had shunts for damage control (group 1,) and 9, for orthopedic/vascular injuries (group 2.) group 1 had significantly higher shunt time, mortality, ISS, and MESS. Shunt time ranged from 47 to 3,130 minutes (52 hours.) Two patients, 1 in each group, required amputations.
Conclusion: Temporary arterial shunts can be use for combined orthopedic and vascular injuries and for damage control. Shunts can stay open for 52 hours without systemic anticoagulation.