JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Upper extremity arterial injuries: experience at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, 1969 to 1991.

PURPOSE: A review of upper extremity arterial injuries managed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital between 1969 and 1991 was undertaken because the optimal management of complex upper extremity trauma, particularly in proximal injuries, remains unclear.

METHODS: Patients were identified from the computer registry of patients treated by the vascular unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. They were studied in three groups: (1) subclavian and axillary artery, (2) brachial artery, and (3) radial and ulnar artery injuries. The mechanism of injury, associated injuries, treatment and outcome were reviewed.

RESULTS: There were 114 patients with upper extremity arterial injuries: 28 with subclavian and axillary, 62 with brachial, and 24 with radial and ulnar artery injuries. Good upper limb function was obtained in 32% of subclavian and axillary artery injuries, 79% of brachial artery injuries, and all radial and ulnar artery injuries. Amputation was performed in 14% of the proximal injuries and 8% of the brachial artery injuries. Three deaths occurred in this study group.

CONCLUSION: Blunt proximal injuries were usually associated with neurologic, soft tissue, and bony damage, which was responsible for the poor functional outcome. Critical limb ischemia or severe hemorrhage rarely occurred. Complete brachial plexus lesions resulted in uniformly poor outcomes. More distal injuries were associated with fewer nerve and soft tissue injuries, resulting in a more satisfactory outcome.

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