Management of Moderate Blunt Thoracic Aortic Injuries in Patients with Intracranial Hemorrhage

Ann Vasc Surg. 2021 May:73:15-21. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2020.11.009. Epub 2020 Dec 24.


Background: Blunt thoracic aortic injuries (BTAIs) are the second most common cause of death due to blunt-force trauma in the United States. Patients with minimal injuries do not typically require surgical repair, whereas patients with severe injuries are treated emergently. Moderate aortic injuries are repaired in a semielective fashion, but the optimal management of patients with moderate BTAI with associated intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) is unknown. We sought to analyze the management and outcomes of patients presenting with concomitant moderate BTAI and ICH.

Methods: Consecutive patients who received a thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) at our institution for treatment of moderate BTAI between January 2014 and December 2017 were retrospectively reviewed as part of an institutional review board-approved protocol. Patients were classified by our BTAI classification into "minimal", "moderate", or "severe". ICH was identified on computed tomography scan and its severity determined by the neurosurgical team. Outcome measures included surgical timing and surgical outcomes.

Results: Fifty-two patients had a moderate BTAI and underwent TEVAR, 20 (38 %) of whom presented with ICH. Median time from admission to surgery was 58.5 hr for patients with ICH and 26.5 hr for non-ICH patients. Intraoperative heparin was administered in all patients without ICH and in 19 of 20 (95%) patients with ICH after the ICH met criteria for stability. Protamine reversal was utilized in 80% of patients with ICH and 75% of non-ICH patients. No patient developed ischemic stroke or spinal cord ischemia. Worsening ICH was seen in only one patient, who also received heparin infusion for pulmonary embolus 24 hr before TEVAR. There were no aortic-related mortalities in either group. Thirty-day all-cause mortality was 5% for patients with ICH and 3% for non-ICH patients.

Conclusions: Patients with moderate BTAI and stable ICH are not at increased risk of TEVAR-related complications. Administration of intraoperative heparin during TEVAR appears to be safe and does not worsen ICH.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Aorta, Thoracic / diagnostic imaging
  • Aorta, Thoracic / injuries
  • Aorta, Thoracic / surgery*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Endovascular Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Heparin / administration & dosage
  • Heparin / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / complications*
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / diagnostic imaging
  • Intraoperative Care
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular System Injuries / complications
  • Vascular System Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Vascular System Injuries / surgery*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / surgery*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin