Introduction Penetrating gunshot injuries (GSI) to supra-aortic arteries that cause life-threatening blood loss or major neurologic deficits are increasingly managed using modern endovascular treatment (EVT). We report our experience with EVT of acute GSIs and review the existing literature.
Methods Emergency EVT was performed in nine of 10 patients (7 men, age 17–50 years) with acute GSIs to supra-aortic arteries requiring acute management. One patient presented with acute and delayed injuries and underwent EVT 4 weeks after initial admission. Patient selection was based on clinical presentation and radiographic findings from a cohort of 55 patients with GSIs to the face, neck or head between February 2009 and March 2012.
Results EVT was successfully performed in all patients. Two transections of the vertebral arteries were embolized with coils and/or liquid embolic agent (acrylic glue). Eight penetrated external carotid artery branches were occluded with liquid embolic agents (acrylic glue or Onyx) or particles. One severe dissection of the internal carotid artery with a subsequent thromboembolic event was treated with stenting. All except one patient survived with minor or no residual deficits.
Conclusions Emergency management of GSI injuries to the head and neck may involve all aspects of current EVT. Understanding endovascular techniques and being able to make rapid and appropriate treatment decisions in the setting of acute GSI to the face and neck can be a life-saving measure and greatly benefits the patient's outcome.
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