Traumatic carotid artery dissection: a significant incidental finding.
Blunt traumatic carotid artery dissection remains controversial in terms of diagnostic screening, reported incidence, and management. Treatment options include observation, anticoagulation and endovascular stenting, and aggressive surgical repair of the carotid artery injury. Blunt traumatic carotid artery dissections were reviewed through a retrospective study of trauma registry records. Seven patients were identified from 3342 patients over 3 years. Six patients were identified incidentally during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) cervical spine/brain screening and one patient during angiographic evaluation for possible penetrating neck injury without MRI/magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). A total of 189 patients underwent MRI screening over this 3-year period, demonstrating a relative incidence of 3.7 per cent, contrasting with the reported incidence of 0.08 to 0.4 per cent for all trauma patients. All seven patients suffered severe head injuries (mean Glasgow Coma Score = 4.7) requiring mean intensive care unit and hospital stays of 15.6 and 23.7 days, respectively. None of the patients showed evidence of stroke with CT scanning on presentation. None of the patients demonstrated clinical focal neurologic signs or symptoms indicating carotid injury or stroke. Six patients survived their acute trauma and were discharged to rehabilitation after initiation of observation (one patient) or anticoagulation (five patients). All six patients showed neurological improvement without deterioration clinically or radiographically. In conclusion we propose early aggressive screening through MRI/MRA of severely injured patients to detect occult carotid artery dissections. Conservative medical treatment for this occult injury has been effective in this series of patients.
Published In/Presented At
Hughes, K. M., Collier, B., Greene, K. A., & Kurek, S. (2000). Traumatic carotid artery dissection: a significant incidental finding. The American surgeon, 66(11), 1023–1027.
Medicine and Health Sciences
Department of Surgery