Blunt cerebrovascular injury: incidence and long-term follow-up

Dennis Hundersmarck, Willem Bart M. Slooff*, Jelle F. Homans, Quirine M.J. van der Vliet, Nizar Moayeri, Falco Hietbrink, Gert J. de Borst, Fetullah Cumhur Öner, Sander P.J. Muijs, Luke P.H. Leenen

*Corresponding author for this work

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PURPOSE: Blunt cerebrovascular injuries (BCVI), which can result in ischemic stroke, are identified in 1-2% of all blunt trauma patients. Computed tomography angiography (CTA) scanning has improved and is the diagnostic modality of choice in BCVI suspected patients. Data about long-term functional outcomes and the incidence of ischemic stroke after BCVI are limited. The aim of this study was to determine BCVI incidence in relation to imaging modality improvements and to determine long-term functional outcomes.

METHODS: All consecutive trauma patients from 2007 to 2016 with BCVI were identified from the level 1 trauma center prospective trauma database. Three periods were identified where CTA diagnostic modalities for trauma patients were improved. Long-term functional outcomes using the EuroQol six-dimensional (EQ-6D™) were determined.

RESULTS: Seventy-one BCVI patients were identified among the 12.122 (0.59%) blunt trauma patients. In the first period BCVI incidence among the overall study cohort, polytrauma, basilar skull fracture and cervical trauma subgroups was found to be 0.3%, 0.9%, 1.2%, 4.6%, respectively, which more than doubled towards the third period (0.8, 2.4, 1.9 and 8.5% respectively). Ischemic stroke as a result of BCVI was found in 20 patients (28%). In-hospital stroke rate was lower in patients receiving antiplatelet therapy (p < 0.01). Six in-hospital deaths were BCVI related. Long-term follow-up (follow-up rate of 83%) demonstrated lower functional outcomes compared to Dutch reference populations (p < 0.01). Ischemic stroke was identified as a major cause of functional impairment at long-term follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Improved CTA diagnostic modalities have increased BCVI incidence. Furthermore, BCVI patients reported significant functional impairment at long-term follow-up. Antiplatelet therapy showed a significant effect on in-hospital stroke rate reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-170
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Blunt cerebrovascular injury
  • Carotid artery injury
  • Functional outcomes
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Vertebral artery injury


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