Nonpenetrating trauma to the carotid artery: seven cases and a literature review

J Trauma. 1994 Feb;36(2):265-72. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199402000-00025.


Nonpenetrating carotid trauma is uncommon and frequently missed on initial examination. The cases of seven patients seen over a period of 21 years are presented and 100 cases from the most recent literature are reviewed. Causes and mechanisms of injury, clinical presentation, investigations, management, and outcome are discussed. Causes of injury were three motor vehicle collisions, two falls, one sports injury, and one blow to the face. Clinical presentation was early in four and delayed in three. The earliest symptoms and signs were a change in mental status, headache, unprovoked fall, focal weakness, neglect, and dysphasia. Doppler studies may be useful in screening, but a definitive diagnosis is made with the help of angiography. Two patients were treated surgically; one died, one with delayed symptoms from a pseudoaneurysm recovered completely. Five patients were given anticoagulants; all survived with permanent deficits related to their pretreatment neurologic status. The outcome in 100 recent cases from the literature has improved compared with previous reports. The overall mortality was 12%. The outcome in our seven cases supports recent trends toward a strategy of early anticoagulation and selective surgical treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotid Artery Injuries*
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / diagnostic imaging
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating* / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating* / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating* / therapy