Blunt renal artery injury: incidence, diagnosis, and management

L M Bruce, M A Croce, J M Santaniello, P R Miller, S P Lyden, T C Fabian
American Surgeon 2001, 67 (6): 550-4; discussion 555-6
Renal artery injury is a rare complication of blunt abdominal trauma. Increasing use of CT scans to evaluate blunt abdominal trauma identifies more blunt renal artery injuries (BRAIs) that may have otherwise been missed. We identified patients with BRAI to examine the incidence and to evaluate the current diagnosis and management strategies. Patients admitted from 1986 to 2000 at a regional Level I trauma center sustaining BRAI were evaluated. Patients undergoing revascularization or nonoperative management were followed for renovascular hypertension. Twenty-eight patients with BRAI were identified out of 36,938 blunt trauma admissions between 1986 and 2000 (incidence 0.08%). Most renal artery injuries were diagnosed by CT scans (93%) with seven confirmatory angiograms. Nine patients had nephrectomy (one bilateral), and three patients with unilateral injuries were revascularized. Sixteen were managed nonoperatively including one patient who had endovascular stent placement. Three patients died from shock and sepsis. Follow-up for all patients ranged from one month to 8 years. Two patients developed hypertension: one who was revascularized (33%) and one was managed nonoperatively (6%). The frequency of diagnosis of BRAI is increasing because of the increased use of CT. Nonoperative management of unilateral injuries can be successful with a 6 per cent risk for developing renovascular hypertension. The role of endovascular stenting is promising, and further study is necessary.

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