UMMS Affiliation

Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Cardiovascular System | Military and Veterans Studies | Surgery | Surgical Procedures, Operative | Trauma


Background: Extremity vascular injury (EVI) causes significant disability in Veterans of the Afghanistan/Iraq conflicts. Advancements in acute trauma care improved survival and decreased amputations. The study of wartime EVI has relied on successful limb salvage as a surrogate for vascular repair. We used imaging studies as a specific measure of arterial repair durability.

Methods: Service members with EVI were identified using the Department of Defense Trauma Registry and validated by chart abstraction. Inclusion criteria for the arterial patency subgroup included an initial repair attempt with subsequent imaging reports (duplex ultrasound, CT angiography, and angiogram) documenting initial patency.

Results: The cohort of 527 included 140 Veterans with available imaging studies for 143 arterial repairs; median follow-up from injury time to last available imaging study was 19 months (Q1-Q3: 3-58; range: 1-175). Injury mechanism was predominantly explosions (52%) and gunshot wounds (42%). Of the 143 arterial repairs, 81% were vein grafts. Eight repairs were occluded, replaced or included in extremity amputations. One upper extremity and three transtibial late amputations were performed for chronic pain and poor function averaging 27 months (SD: 4; range: 24-32). Kaplan-Meier analysis estimated patency rates of 99%, 97%, 95%, 91% and 91% at 3, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months, respectively, with similar results for upper and lower extremity repairs. Explosive and gunshot wound injury mechanisms had similar patency rates and upper extremity injuries repaired with vein grafts had increased patency.

Conclusions: Arterial repair mid-term patency in combat-related extremity injuries is excellent based on imaging studies for 143 repairs. Assertive attempts at acute limb salvage and vascular repair are justified with decisions for amputation versus limb salvage based on the overall condition of the patient and degree of concomitant nerve, orthopedic and soft tissue injuries rather than the presence of arterial injuries.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic/care management, level IV.


amputation, extremities, vascular system injuries, war-related injuries

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Copyright information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

DOI of Published Version



Haney LJ, Bae E, Pugh MJV, Copeland LA, Wang CP, MacCarthy DJ, Amuan ME, Shireman PK. Patency of arterial repairs from wartime extremity vascular injuries. Trauma Surg Acute Care Open. 2020 Dec 24;5(1):e000616. doi: 10.1136/tsaco-2020-000616. PMID: 33409373; PMCID: PMC7768973. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Trauma surgery and acute care open

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License