Evaluation and treatment of penetrating cervical injuries

J Trauma. 1979 Jun;19(6):391-7. doi: 10.1097/00005373-197906000-00001.


Because the serious nature of penetrating cervical injuries may not be readily apparent on initial evaluation, and since delay in treatment can result in serious complications, a systematic method of evaluation and routine exploration has been employed in treating these injuries. One hundred eighty-nine patients, 49 with gunshot wounds and 140 with stab wounds, were treated in this series. Arteriography was performed in 62 patients (33%) to detect vascular injuries and to aid in the planning of the operative approach in patients with high or low neck wounds. Arteriography was 98% accurate and changed the operative approach in 29% of the positive studies. Of the 154 explorations 72 were positive (47%). There were no deaths and only four complications in the group with negative explorations. The mortality rate for the series was 2.6%. We believe that angiography in selected patients and routine exploration of wounds penetrating the platysma can minimize morbidity and mortality in these injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angiography
  • Arteries / injuries
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Injuries*
  • Veins / injuries
  • Wounds, Gunshot / diagnosis*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality
  • Wounds, Gunshot / therapy
  • Wounds, Stab / diagnosis*
  • Wounds, Stab / mortality
  • Wounds, Stab / therapy