Background: Blunt carotid artery injury (BCI) is a rare but potentially devastating injury. When undiagnosed it can result in severe disability or death.
Methods: A Medline-based literature search was performed using key words 'blunt carotid injury' and cross-referenced with further original papers obtained from the references from this search.
Results and conclusions: The incidence of BCI is very low. However, given the serious consequences of a missed injury, recent efforts have focussed on targeted screening for this injury in trauma patients. Conventional angiography remains the investigation of choice but may be superceded in the future by non-invasive methods such as magnetic resonance angiography or CT angiography. Operative intervention is rarely required and anti-coagulation remains the treatment of choice where dissection or pseudoaneurysm is diagnosed. The role of anti-platelet therapy is currently being investigated. Endovascular management using stents has been described but medium to long term results are not yet available.