Traumatic arterial injuries of the extremities: initial evaluation with MDCT angiography

Michael Rieger, Ammar Mallouhi, Thomas Tauscher, Martin Lutz, Werner R Jaschke
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 2006, 186 (3): 656-64

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to retrospectively assess the accuracy of MDCT angiography as the initial diagnostic technique to depict arterial injury in patients with extremity trauma.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Over 36 months, 87 patients (16 females and 71 males; age range, 16-87 years) with clinically suspected arterial injury after extremity trauma underwent 4-MDCT angiography and 67 ultimately underwent surgery. Eighty patients had blunt injuries, and seven had penetrating injuries. The presence of arterial involvement was investigated prospectively by the radiologist in charge and retrospectively by two independent radiologists. Each detected arterial lesion was then characterized as a spasm, stenosis, occlusion, or rupture. The standard of reference was surgery in 67 patients, angiography in two patients, and clinical and radiologic follow-up findings in 18 patients. MDCT angiography was assessed by means of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis for lesion detection and Spearman's rank correlation test for lesion characterization. Image quality, lesion depiction, and artifacts were subjectively assessed.

RESULTS: Sixty-two traumatic arterial lesions were confirmed at surgery in 55 patients. MDCT angiography yielded high accuracy in detection (area under the ROC curve [Az] = 0.96; p < 0.001) and characterization (r = 0.94; p < 0.001) of traumatic arterial injuries and in recognizing an underlying dissection (Az= 0.82; p < 0.001). Prospective sensitivity and specificity were 95% and 87%, respectively, and retrospective sensitivity and specificity were 99% and 87%, respectively. MDCT angiography was considered to be sufficient for a reliable diagnosis in 83 patients (p < 0.001). Image quality and lesion depiction on MDCT angiograms were considered to be good and artifacts were considered mild with substantial interobserver agreement (kappa, 0.62-0.69).

CONCLUSION: MDCT angiography provides significant and reproducible technique for the detection and characterization of arterial injuries to the extremities with high image quality and vascular delineation.

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