Background: Although uncommon in children, traumatic vascular injuries have the potential for lifelong disability. We reviewed these injuries, their acute management, and early outcomes at a Level I trauma center.
Methods: Retrospective review of patients identified through trauma registry was query of all noniatrogenic vascular injuries in a pediatric population during a 13-year period. Demographics, injury type and management, concomitant injuries, and inpatient outcomes were analyzed.
Results: From 1995 to 2008, 8,247 children with traumatic injuries were admitted. Of which 116 (1.4%) sustained 138 significant vascular injuries; 111 arterial and 27 venous. Mean age was 12.7 years ± 4.1 years. Penetrating mechanism was more frequent (57.8%; 67 of 116) than blunt (42.2%; 49 of 116). The overall mean injury severity score was 17.3, of which 12.3 ± 11.7 was for penetrating trauma and 24.1 ± 19.3 for blunt trauma. Thirteen of the 36 patients with torso injuries and one with carotid/jugular injury died. The surviving 102 patients sustained 118 vascular injuries (102 arterial and 16 venous). Of this group, 15 (14.6%) had multiple vascular injuries. There were 23 (22.5%) with torso injuries, 72 (70.6%) with extremity injuries, and 7 (6.9%) with cerebrovascular injuries. Primary repair was the most common arterial repair technique for survivors (25.5%, 26 of 102) and was used more frequently in penetrating trauma (35.0%, 21 of 60) than blunt trauma (12.0%, 5 of 42). Limb salvage was 97.4% (113 of 116).
Conclusions: Pediatric vascular trauma is uncommon. Penetrating mechanism is more common than blunt. Injuries to the torso carry a high mortality. Limb salvage is almost universal.