The role of angiography in penetrating neck trauma

J Trauma. 1991 Apr;31(4):557-62; discussion 562-3. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199104000-00016.


Seventy-two consecutive patients who underwent neck arteriography were reviewed to assess recent suggestions that angiography is not indicated in asymptomatic patients with penetrating neck trauma. Proximity to major neck vessels without signs or symptoms of vascular trauma was the reason for angiography in ten of 26 patients with proven arterial injuries. Physical examination had a specificity of 80% and a sensitivity of 61% in this series. There was no correlation between mechanism or location of penetration and the likelihood of clinically significant injury. We conclude that recent recommendations suggesting that arteriography is unnecessary in asymptomatic patients with penetrating neck trauma are premature. Further investigations of larger patient samples are necessary to determine if "proximity" should be abandoned as an indication for arteriography. We advocate that, until additional data are accumulated, urgent arteriography and esophagography or operative exploration are indicated in stable asymptomatic patients with neck wounds which violate the platysma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiography*
  • Aortography
  • Arteries / injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Injuries*
  • Neck Muscles / injuries
  • Physical Examination
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Wounds, Penetrating / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Penetrating / diagnostic imaging*