Long-term results of stent graft treatment of subclavian artery injuries: management of choice for stable patients?

J Vasc Surg. 2008 Apr;47(4):739-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2007.11.009. Epub 2008 Feb 1.


Background: The management of penetrating subclavian artery injuries poses a formidable surgical challenge. The feasibility of stent graft repair is already established. General use of this modality is not widely accepted due to concerns regarding the long-term outcome in a generally young patient population. We review our stent graft experience to examine long-term outcomes.

Methods: All patients with penetrating subclavian artery injuries were evaluated for stent graft repair. Patients were excluded when hemodynamically unstable or unsuitable on other clinical and angiographic grounds. Patients were followed prospectively for early (<30 days) and late (>30 days) complications. Clinical and telephone evaluation, Doppler pressures, duplex Doppler, and angiography (when indicated), were used to asses patients at follow-up. Outcomes were recorded as technical success of procedure, graft patency, arm claudication, limb loss, the need for open surgical repair, the presence or absence of other complications, and death.

Results: Fifty-seven patients underwent stent graft treatment during the 10-year period. Mean age was 34, and 91% were men. There were 53 stab wounds and four gunshot injuries. Pathology included false aneurysms (n = 42), arteriovenous fistula (n = 12), and three arterial occlusions. Early complications: One patient (2%) had a femoral puncture site injury which was managed with open surgical repair. One patient died early due to multiple organ failure related to concomitant injuries. Three patients (5%) presented with graft occlusion and nonlimb threatening ischemia in the first week after treatment. All three patients were managed successfully with a second endovascular intervention. Late complications: Twenty-five (44%) of the 57 patients with subclavian artery injuries were followed-up with a mean duration of 48 months. Two patients died as a result of fatal stab wounds months after their first injuries. Five patients (20%) and three patients (12%) presented with angiographically significant stenosis and occlusions, respectively. The stenotic lesions were successfully managed with endovascular intervention, and the occluded lesions were managed conservatively. No patient experienced life or limb loss or any incapacitating symptoms at the end of the study period. There was no need for conversion to open surgery.

Conclusions: This study has reaffirmed the feasibility and safety of stent graft repair in treating stable patients with selected penetrating subclavian artery injuries. The results of this study also confirmed acceptable long-term follow-up without any limb or life threatening complications. We conclude that endovascular repair should be considered the first choice of treatment in stable patients with subclavian artery injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aneurysm, False / therapy
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / therapy
  • Arteriovenous Fistula / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stents*
  • Subclavian Artery / injuries*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds, Gunshot / therapy
  • Wounds, Stab / therapy