Functional outcomes following blunt cerebrovascular injury

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Apr;74(4):955-60. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318287800f.


Background: There has been much debate on whom to screen, how to screen, and how to treat blunt cerebrovascular injury (BCVI), but there has been little published on long-term functional outcomes following diagnosis and treatment of BCVI. This study was conducted to address those long-term outcomes.

Methods: Patients with BCVI during a 53-month period ending June 2009 were identified. Charts were reviewed for demographics, associated injuries, treatments, strokes, and in-hospital mortality. Posthospital discharge follow-up was conducted. A structured telephone interview was performed using a functional independence measurement-functional activity measurement questionnaire consisting of 30 questions in seven categories (self-care, sphincter control, mobility, locomotion, communication, psychosocial, and cognitive). Each question was scored from 1 (requires full assistance) to 7 (fully independent). Outcomes were compared by type of BCVI, associated injuries, and stroke.

Results: Two hundred twenty-two patients with BCVI were identified. Twenty-four patients died during their initial hospitalization, and an additional 11 patient died after hospital discharge. The 68 patients who completed the interview constituted our study population. Mean follow-up was 35 months. Of a possible 210 points, the mean total score on functional independence measurement and functional activity measurement was 186, 185, and 188 for all patients, carotid artery injuries, and vertebral arteries injuries, respectively. A significant difference was seen when comparing patients with and without strokes (173 and 189, respectively).

Conclusion: This is the first report of functional outcomes following BCVI. We found that carotid and vertebral artery injuries have similar functional outcomes. As would be expected, the development of stroke led to worse outcomes. This underscores the importance of early diagnosis and initiation of therapy. Prevention of stroke in patients with BCVI leads to near-normal functional outcomes.

Level of evidence: Epidemiologic/prognostic study, level III.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / diagnosis
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / epidemiology
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / physiopathology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospital Mortality / trends
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tennessee / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult