The role of CT angiography in the diagnosis of blunt traumatic thoracic aortic disruption and unsuspected carotid artery injury

Walaya C Methodius-Ngwodo, Allison B Burkett, Paul V Kochupura, Eric D Wellons, George Fuhrman, David Rosenthal
American Surgeon 2008, 74 (7): 580-5; discussion 585-6
We have replaced aortography and open thoracic surgery to diagnose and treat blunt traumatic thoracic aortic disruption (TTAD) in favor of CT angiography (CTA) and endovascular repair. The purpose of this study is to review our experience with the management and outcomes of TTAD and associated carotid artery injuries. In January 2003, we initiated a protocol that used CTA to evaluate all patients with suspected TTAD from blunt trauma. When TTAD was diagnosed, patients were managed by endovascular repair using abdominal aortic extension cuffs. Twenty-nine patients with TTAD were managed by endovascular repair. In all patients, abdominal endograft extension cuffs successfully excluded the traumatic disruptions. Six (21%) of these patients had concomitant, unsuspected carotid artery injury diagnosed by CTA. One patient had bilateral carotid artery dissections, sustained irreversible brain injury, and died. Four patients with common carotid dissections were successfully treated by anticoagulation and made uneventful recoveries. One patient with a common carotid-innominate artery dissection and pseudoaneurysm underwent endovascular repair. This study indicates that CTA and endovascular repair provide accurate diagnostic and therapeutic results in the management of blunt TTAD. Furthermore, CTA should include arch and cervical views to detect an unsuspected, concomitant carotid artery injury.

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