Background: Penetrating injuries of the subclavian artery occurs infrequently but represent a surgical challenge. We reviewed our experience with penetrating injury of the subclavian artery and identify factors that influenced morbidity and mortality.
Methods: A retrospective review was performed on 54 consecutive patients who sustained penetrating injury to the subclavian artery during a 10-year period.
Results: The causes of injuries were gunshot wounds in 46 patients (85%), stab wounds in 5 patients (9%), and shotgun wounds in 3 patients (6%). The overall mortality was 39%. Operative management of the subclavian artery injury included primary repair in 38 patients, interposition grafting in 13 patients, and ligation in 3 patients. The most common associated injury was subclavian vein (44%) followed by brachial plexus (31%). Predictors of survivability include mechanism of penetrating injuries, hemodynamic status of patients on arrival, and three or more associated injuries involving other structures. Associated brachial plexus injury accounts for the majority of long-term morbidity in survivors.
Conclusions: Penetrating injuries of the subclavian artery are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Multiple concomitant injuries, unstable vital signs upon presentation, and gun shot injuries greatly increase mortality.