Background: Haemorrhage is the leading cause of death on the battlefield. Seventy percent of injuries are due to explosive mechanisms. Anecdotally, these patients have had poorer outcomes when compared to those with penetrating mechanisms of injury (MOI). We wished to test the hypothesis that outcomes following vascular reconstruction were worse in blast-injured than non blast-injured patients. Methods: Retrospective cohort study. British and American combat casualties with arterial injuries sustained in Iraq or Afghanistan (2003–2014) were identified from the UK Joint Theatre Trauma Registry (JTTR). Eligibility included explosive or penetrating MOI, with follow-up to UK hospital discharge, or death. Outcomes were mortality, amputation, graft thrombosis, haemorrhage, and infection. Statistical analysis was performed using Pearson Chi-Square test, t-tests, ANOVA or non-parametric equivalent, and survival analyses. Results: One hundred and fifteen patients were included, 80 injured by explosive and 35 by penetrating mechanisms. Evacuation time, ISS, number of arterial injuries, age and gender were comparable between groups. Seventy percent of arterial injuries resulted from an explosive MOI. The explosive injuries group received more blood products (p = 0.008) and suffered more regions injured (p < 0.0001). Early surgical interventions in both were ligation (n = 36, 31%), vein graft (n = 33, 29%) and shunting (n = 9, 8%). Mortality (n = 12, 10%) was similar between groups. Differences in limb salvage rates following explosive (n = 17, 53%) vs penetrating (n = 13, 76.47%) mechanisms approached statistical significance (p = 0.056). Nine (28%) vein grafted patients developed complications. No evidence of a difference in the incidence of vein graft thrombosis was found when comparing explosive with non-explosive cohorts (p = 0.154). Conclusions: The recorded numbers of vein grafts following combat arterial trauma in are small in the JTTR. No statistically-significant differences in complications, including vein graft thrombosis, were found between cohorts injured by explosive and non-explosive mechanisms.
- Vascular outcomes
- Vascular trauma