Management of blunt extracranial traumatic cerebrovascular injury: a multidisciplinary survey of current practice

World J Emerg Surg. 2011 Apr 8;6:11. doi: 10.1186/1749-7922-6-11.


Background: Extracranial traumatic cerebrovascular injury (TCVI) is present in 1-3% of all blunt force trauma patients. Although options for the management of patients with these lesions include anticoagulation, antiplatelet agents, and endovascular treatment, the optimal management strategy for patients with these lesions is not yet established.

Objective: Multidisciplinary survey of clinicians about current management of TCVI.

Methods: A six-item multiple-choice survey was sent by electronic mail to a total of 11,784 neurosurgeons, trauma surgeons, stroke neurologists, and interventional radiologists. The survey included questions about their choice of imaging, medical management, and the use of endovascular techniques. Survey responses were analyzed according to stated specialty.

Results: Seven hundred eighty-five (6.7%) responses were received. Overall, a total of 325 (42.8%) respondents favored anticoagulation (heparin and/or warfarin), 247 (32.5%) favored antiplatelet drugs, 130 (17.1%) preferred both anticoagulation and antiplatelet drugs, and 57 (7.5%) preferred stenting and/or embolization. Anticoagulation was the most commonly preferred treatment among vascular surgeons (56.9%), neurologists (50.2%) and neurosurgeons (40.7%), whereas antiplatelet agents were the most common preferred treatment among trauma surgeons (41.5%). Overall, 158 (20.7%) of respondents recommended treatment of asymptomatic dissections and traumatic aneurysms, 211 (27.7%) did not recommend it, and 39.4% recommended endovascular treatment only if there is worsening of the lesion on follow-up imaging.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate the wide variability of physicians' management of traumatic cerebrovascular injury, both on an individual basis, and between specialties. These findings underscore the need for multicenter, randomized trials in this field.