Natural history of grade I-II blunt traumatic aortic injury

Michael J Osgood, Josh M Heck, Eric J Rellinger, Stacey L Doran, C Louis Garrard, Raul J Guzman, Thomas C Naslund, Jeffery B Dattilo
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2014, 59 (2): 334-41

BACKGROUND: Endovascular aortic repair has revolutionized the management of traumatic blunt aortic injury (BAI). However, debate continues about the extent of injury requiring endovascular repair, particularly with regard to minimal aortic injury. Therefore, we conducted a retrospective observational analysis of our experience with these patients.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed all BAI presenting to an academic level I trauma center over a 10-year period (2000-2010). Images were reviewed by a radiologist and graded according to Society for Vascular Surgery guidelines (grade I-IV). Demographics, injury severity, and outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS: We identified 204 patients with BAI of the thoracic or abdominal aorta. Of these, 155 were deemed operative injuries at presentation, had grade III-IV injuries or aortic dissection, and were excluded from this analysis. The remaining 49 patients had 50 grade I-II injuries. We managed 46 grade I injuries (intimal tear or flap, 95%), and four grade II injuries (intramural hematoma, 5%) nonoperatively. Of these, 41 patients had follow-up imaging at a mean of 86 days postinjury and constitute our study cohort. Mean age was 41 years, and mean length of stay was 14 days. The majority (48 of 50, 96%) were thoracic aortic injuries and the remaining two (4%) were abdominal. On follow-up imaging, 23 of 43 (55%) had complete resolution of injury, 17 (40%) had no change in aortic injury, and two (5%) had progression of injury. Of the two patients with progression, one progressed from grade I to grade II and the other progressed from grade I to grade III (pseudoaneurysm). Mean time to progression was 16 days. Neither of the patients with injury progression required operative intervention or died during follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Injury progression in grade I-II BAI is rare (~5%) and did not cause death in our study cohort. Given that progression to grade III injury is possible, follow-up with repeat aortic imaging is reasonable.

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