Long-term follow-up of blunt cerebrovascular injuries: Does time heal all wounds?

Adriana Laser, Brandon R. Bruns, Joseph A. Kufera, Andrew I. Kim, Timothy Feeney, Ronald B. Tesoriero, Margaret H. Lauerman, Clint W. Sliker, Thomas M. Scalea, Deborah M. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND The short-term natural history of blunt cerebrovascular injuries (BCVIs) has been previously described in the literature, but the purpose of this study was to analyze long-term serial follow-up and lesion progression of BCVI. METHODS This is a single institution's retrospective review of a prospectively collected database over four years (2009-2013). All patients with a diagnosis of BCVI by computed tomographic (CT) scan were identified, and injuries were graded based on modified Denver scale. Management followed institutional algorithm: initial whole-body contrast-enhanced CT scan, followed by CT angiography at 24 to 72 hours, 5 to 7 days, 4 to 6 weeks, and 3 months after injury. All follow-up imaging, medication management, and clinical outcomes through 6 months following injury were recorded. RESULTS There were 379 patients with 509 injuries identified. Three hundred eighty-one injuries were diagnosed as BCVI on first CT (Grade 1 injuries, 126; Grade 2 injuries, 116; Grade 3 injuries, 69; and Grade 4 injuries, 70); 100 "indeterminate" on whole-body CT; 28 injuries were found in patients reimaged only for lesions detected in other vessels. Sixty percent were male, mean (SD) age was 46.5 (19.9) years, 65% were white, and 62% were victims of a motor vehicle crash. Most frequently, Grade 1 injuries were resolved at all subsequent time points. Up to 30% of Grade 2 injuries worsened, but nearly 50% improved or resolved. Forty-six percent of injuries originally not detected were subsequently diagnosed as Grade 3 injuries. Greater than 70% of all imaged Grade 3 and Grade 4 injuries remained unchanged at all subsequent time points. CONCLUSIONS This study revealed that there are many changes in grade throughout the six-month time period, especially the lesions that start out undetectable or indeterminate, which become various grade injuries. Low-grade injuries (Grades 1 and 2) are likely to remain stable and eventually resolve. Higher-grade injuries (Grades 3 and 4) persist, many up to six months. Inpatient treatment with antiplatelet or anticoagulation did not affect BCVI progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1063-1068
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Blunt cerebrovascular injury
  • blunt carotid injuries
  • blunt vertebral injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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