Expanded screening criteria for blunt cerebrovascular injury: a bigger impact than anticipated

Am J Surg. 2016 Dec;212(6):1167-1174. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2016.09.016. Epub 2016 Sep 29.


Background: We implemented expanded screening criteria for blunt cerebrovascular injuries (BCVIs) in an attempt to capture the remaining 20% of patients not historically identified with earlier protocols. We hypothesized that these expanded criteria would capture the additional 20% of BCVI patients not previously identified.

Methods: Screening criteria for BCVI were expanded in 2011 after identifying new injury patterns. The study population included 4 years prior (2007 to 2010; classic) and following (2011 to 2014; expanded) implementation of expanded criteria.

Results: BCVIs were identified in 386 patients: 150 during the classic period (2.36% incidence) and 236 in the expanded period (2.99% incidence). In the expanded period, 155 patients were imaged based on classic screening criteria, 62 on expanded criteria (21 complex skull fractures, 20 upper rib fractures, 6 mandible fractures, 2 scalp degloving, 1 great vessel injury, and 12 combination), and 19 for other injuries and symptoms.

Conclusions: There was a significant increase in the identification of BCVI following the adoption of expanded screening criteria, resulting in a substantial reduction of missed injuries. Expanded criteria should be adopted when screening for BCVI.

Keywords: Blunt cerebrovascular injuries; Carotid artery injury; Screening criteria; Stroke; Traumatic vascular injury; Vertebral artery injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / complications
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Head Injuries, Closed / complications
  • Head Injuries, Closed / diagnostic imaging*
  • Head Injuries, Closed / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult