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Management of high-risk popliteal vascular blunt trauma: clinical experience with 62 cases

Authors Pourzand A, Fakhri BA, Azhough R, Hassanzadeh MA, Hashemzadeh S, Bayat AM

Published 14 July 2010 Volume 2010:6 Pages 613—618


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Ali Pourzand, Bassir A Fakhri, Ramin Azhough, Mohammad Ali Hassanzadeh, Shahryar Hashemzadeh, Amrollah M Bayat

Department of General Surgery, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, East Azarbaijan Province, Iran

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to report the clinical and functional outcomes of patients, treated between 2004 and 2009, with high-risk popliteal vascular injuries due to compound fractures about the knee.
Patients and methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of prospectively collected data from Tabriz Medical Trauma Center. Our aim was to perform surgical revascularization as soon as the arterial injury was recognized. The mechanism of injury was blunt in the entire cohort of patients, and all of them had bone fractures about the knee. The treatment of arterial injury included vein graft interposition in 39 (63%), primary anastomosis in 20 (32.3%), and lateral repair in 3 (4.8%) patients. The patients were divided into 2 study groups: limb salvage group (group 1) and amputation group (group 2). Subgroup analysis consisted of univariate analysis comparing the 2 groups and multivariate analysis examining the factors associated negatively and positively with the primary endpoint, limb salvage.

Results: In the entire cohort of patients, 60 patients (97%) were male and 2 were female (3%); the mean age was 34.1 years (16–49 years). The overall amputation rate in this study was 37.1% (23 amputations). Significant (P < 0.05) independent factors associated negatively with limb salvage were combined tibia and fibula fracture, concomitant artery and vein injury, ligation of venous injury, and lack of backflow after Fogarty catheter thrombectomy, while repair of popliteal artery and vein injury, when present, was associated with improved early limb salvage. For 40 patients, we adopt a liberal attitude toward open 4-compartment fasciotomy through both medially and laterally placed incisions.

Conclusion: Expeditious recognition of vascular injury, transport to repair, and repair of associated venous injury when possible are necessary to optimize limb salvage. The importance of a high level of suspicion and low threshold for timely amputation has been emphasized when limb salvage was deemed impossible to prevent life-threatening complication. Delays in surgery, extensive soft tissue defect, compound tibia–fibula fracture, and other factors are associated with high amputation rate following popliteal artery injury.

Keywords: popliteal vascular blunt trauma, knee, fracture

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