Blunt subclavian artery trauma is an uncommon but challenging surgical problem. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively review the management of blunt subclavian artery injuries treated by the Trauma and Vascular Surgery Services at the East Tennessee State University-affiliated hospitals between 1992 and 1998. Six patients with seven blunt subclavian artery injuries were identified. Physical signs indicating blunt subclavian artery injury were pain or contusion around the shoulder joint; fractures of the clavicle, scapula, or ribs; periclavicular hematomas; and ipsilateral pulse or neurologic deficits. Seven subclavian artery injuries were treated-two arterial transections, two pseudoaneurysms, and three intimal dissections. Associated injuries included four clavicle fractures, one humerus fracture, one combined rib and scapular fractures, and two pneumothoraxes. Vascular surgical treatment included three primary arterial repairs, two saphenous vein interposition grafts, and one polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) graft. One patient was treated nonoperatively with anticoagulation. No deaths occurred. Morbidity occurred in two patients with chronic upper extremity neuropathy producing prolonged disability from pain and weakness; one patient had reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and the other had a brachial plexus injury. In conclusion, blunt subclavian artery trauma can be successfully managed with early use of arteriography and prompt surgical correction by a variety of vascular techniques. Vascular morbidity is usually low, but long-term disability because of chronic neuropathy may result from associated brachial plexus nerve injury despite a successful arterial repair.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine