Roles of Trauma CT and CTA in Salvaging the Threatened or Mangled Extremity

David Dreizin*, Elana B. Smith, Kathryn Champ, Jonathan J. Morrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Extremity arterial injuries account for up to 50% of all arterial trau-mas. The speed, accuracy, reproducibility, and close proximity of modern CT scanners to the trauma bay have led to the liberal use of CT angiography (CTA) when a limb is in ischemic jeopardy or is a potential source of life-threatening hemorrhage. The radiologist plays a critical role in the rapid communication of findings related to vessel transection and occlusion. Another role of CT that is often overlooked involves adding value to surgical planning. The following are some of the key questions addressed in this review: How does CTA help determine whether a limb is salvageable? How do concurrent multisystem injuries affect decision making? Which arterial injuries can be safely managed with observation alone? What damage control techniques are used to address compartment syndrome and hemorrhage? What options are available for definitive revascularization? Ideally, the radiologist should be familiar with the widely used Gustilo-Anderson open-fracture classification system, which was developed to prognosticate the likelihood of a functional limb salvage on the basis of soft-tissue and bone loss.When functional salvage is feasible or urgent hemorrhage control is required, communication with trauma surgeon colleagues is augmented by an understanding of the unique surgical, endovascular, and hybrid approaches available for each anatomic region of the upper and lower extremities. The radiologist should also be familiar with the common postoperative appearances of staged vascular, orthopedic, and plastic reconstructions for efficient clinically relevant reporting of potential down-range complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E50-E67
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


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