A systematic review and meta-analysis of diagnostic screening criteria for blunt cerebrovascular injuries

J Am Coll Surg. 2012 Mar;214(3):313-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2011.11.012. Epub 2012 Jan 11.


Background: Despite progress in diagnosing and managing blunt cerebrovascular injury (BCVI), controversy remains regarding the appropriate population to screen. A systematic review of published literature was conducted to summarize the overall incidence of BCVI and the various screening criteria used to detect BCVI. A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate which screening criteria may be associated with BCVI. Goals were to confirm inclusion of certain criteria in current screening protocols and possibly eliminate criteria not associated with BCVI.

Study design: Studies published between January 1995 and April 2011 using digital subtraction angiography or CT angiography as a diagnostic modality and reporting overall BCVI incidence or prevalence of BCVI for specific screening criteria were examined. Screening criteria were analyzed using a random effects model to determine if an association with BCVI was present.

Results: The incidence range of BCVI was between 0.18% and 2.70% among approximately 122,176 blunt trauma admissions. The meta-analysis encompassed 418 BCVI and 22,568 non-BCVI patients. Of the 9 screening criteria analyzed, cervical spine (odds ratio [OR] 5.45; 95% CI 2.24 to 13.27; p < 0.0001) and thoracic (OR 1.98; 95% CI 1.35 to 2.92; p = 0.001) injuries demonstrated a significant association with BCVI.

Conclusions: Patients with cervical spine and thoracic injuries had significantly greater likelihoods of BCVI compared with patients without these injuries. All patients with either injury should be screened for BCVI. Multivariate logistic regression analysis is needed to elucidate the possible impact of the combined presence of screening criteria, but it was not possible in our study due to limitations in data presentation. Standardized reporting of BCVI data is not established and is recommended to permit future collaboration.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / diagnosis*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries
  • Humans
  • Multiple Trauma
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / injuries
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnosis*