Lower extremity arterial injury: results of 550 cases and review of risk factors associated with limb loss

H M Hafez, J Woolgar, J V Robbs
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2001, 33 (6): 1212-9

PURPOSE: We sought to analyze the results of lower limb arterial injury (LLAI) management in a busy metropolitan vascular unit and to identify risk factors associated with limb loss.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between 1987 and 1997, prospectively collected data on 550 patients with 641 lower limb arterial injuries were analyzed.

RESULTS: The mechanism of LLAI was gunshot wounds in 46.1%, blunt in 19%, stabbing in 11.8%, and shotgun in 9.1%. The most frequently injured vessel was the superficial femoral artery (37.2%), followed by the popliteal (30.7%), crural (11%), common femoral (8.7%), and deep femoral (5.3%) arteries. In 3.4% of cases, there was a combined injury on either side of the knee (ipsilaterally). Associated injuries included bony injury in 35.1% of cases, nerve injury in 7.6%, and remote affecting the head, chest, or abdomen in 3.6%. Surgery was carried out on 96.2% of cases with a limb salvage rate of 83.8% and a survival of 98.5%. In spite of a rising trend in LLAI, our total and delayed amputation rates remained stable. On stepwise logistic regression analysis, significant (P <.01) independent risk factors for amputation were occluded graft (odds ratio [OR] 16.7), combined above- and below-knee injury (OR 4.4), tense compartment (OR 4.2), arterial transsection (OR 2.8), and associated compound fracture (OR 2.7).

CONCLUSION: LLAI carries a high amputation rate. Stab injuries are the least likely to lead to amputations, whereas high-velocity firearm injuries are the most likely to do so. The most significant independent risk factor for limb loss was failed revascularization.

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