Impact of Staged Vascular Management on Limb Outcomes in Wartime Femoropopliteal Arterial Injury

David S. Kauvar*, Brandon W. Propper, Zachary M. Arthurs, M. Wayne Causey, Thomas J. Walters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: By necessity, wartime arterial injuries undergo staged management. Initial procedures may occur at a forward surgical team (role 2), where temporary shunts can be placed before transfer to a larger field hospital (role 3) for definitive reconstruction. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of staging femoropopliteal injury care on limb outcomes. Methods: A military vascular injury database was queried for Iraq/Afghanistan casualties with femoropopliteal arterial injuries undergoing attempted reconstruction (2004–2012). Cases were grouped by initial arterial management: shunt placed at role 2 (R2SHUNT), reconstruction at role 2 (R2RECON), and initial management at role 3 (R3MGT). The primary outcome was limb salvage; secondary outcomes were limb-specific complications. Descriptive and intergroup comparative statistics were performed with significance defined at P ≤ 0.05. Results: Of 257 cases, all but 4 had definitive reconstruction before evacuation to Germany (median, 2 days): 46 R2SHUNT, 84 R2RECON, and 127 R3MGT; median Mangled Extremity Severity Score was 6 for all groups. R2SHUNT had median extremity Abbreviated Injury Scale––vascular of 4 (other groups, 3; P < 0.05) and was more likely to have concomitant venous injury and to undergo fasciotomy. Shunts were used for 5 ± 3 hr. About 24% of R2RECON repairs were revised at role 3. Limb salvage rate of 80% was similar between groups, and 62% of amputations performed within 48 hr of injury. Rates of limb and composite graft complications were similar between groups. Thrombosis was more common in R2SHUNT (22%) than R2RECONST (6%) or R3MGT (12%) (P = 0.03). Late (>48 hr) thrombosis rates were similar, whereas 60% of R2SHUNT thromboses occurred on day of injury (P = 0.003 vs. 25% and 0%). Conclusions: Staged femoropopliteal injury care is associated with similar limb salvage to initial role 3 management. Early thrombosis is likely because of shunt failure but does not lead to limb loss. Current military practice guidelines are appropriate and may inform civilian vascular injury management protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


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