A multi-registry analysis of military and civilian penetrating cervical carotid artery injury

Alley E. Ronaldi, Jeanette E. Polcz, Henry T. Robertson, Patrick F. Walker, Joseph D. Bozzay, Joseph J. Dubose, Paul W. White, Todd E. Rasmussen, Joseph M. White*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Penetrating cervical carotid artery injury is an uncommon but high-stake scenario associated with stroke and death. The objective of this study was to characterize and compare penetrating carotid injury in the military and civilian setting, as well as provide considerations for management. METHODS: Cohorts with penetrating cervical carotid artery injury from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry (2002–2015) and the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma Prospective Observation Vascular Injury Treatment Registry (2012–2018) were analyzed. A least absolute shrinkage and selection operator multivariate analysis using random forest-based imputation was performed to identify risk factors affecting stroke and mortality. RESULTS: There were a total of 157 patients included in the study, of which 56 (35.7%) were military and 101 (64.3%) were civilian. The military cohort was more likely to have been managed with open surgery (87.5% vs. 44.6%, p < 0.001) and to have had any procedure to restore or maintain flow to the brain (71.4% vs. 35.6%, p < 0.001), while the civilian cohort was more likely to undergo nonoperative management (45.5% vs. 12.5%, p < 0.001). Stroke rate was higher within the military cohort (41.1% vs. 13.9%, p < 0.001); however, mortality did not differ between the groups (12.5% vs. 17.8%, p = 0.52). On multivariate analysis, predictors for stroke were presence of a battle injury (log odds, 2.1; p < 0.001) and internal or common carotid artery ligation (log odds 1.5, p = 0.009). For mortality outcome, protective factors included a high Glasgow Coma Scale on admission (log odds, -0.21 per point; p < 0.001). Increased admission Injury Severity Score was a predictor of mortality (log odds, 0.05 per point; p = 0.005). CONCLUSION: The stroke rate was higher in the military cohort, possibly reflecting complexity of injury; however, there was no difference in mortality between military and civilian patients. For significant injuries, concerted efforts should be made at carotid reconstruction to reduce the occurrence of stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S226-S232
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cervical carotid artery injury
  • penetrating carotid artery injury


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