Color-flow duplex screening for upper extremity proximity injuries: a low-yield strategy for therapeutic intervention.

Annals of vascular surgery

PubMedID: 23411167

Mollberg NM, Wise SR, Banipal S, Sullivan R, Holevar M, Vafa A, Clark E, Merlotti GJ. Color-flow duplex screening for upper extremity proximity injuries: a low-yield strategy for therapeutic intervention. Ann Vasc Surg. 2013;27(5):594-8.
BACKGROUND
Although the incidence of injury to the upper extremity screened with angiography as a result of proximity penetrating trauma is similar to that of the lower extremity, intervention rates seem to be higher. However, studies evaluating the incidence of injury as a result of proximity penetrating trauma have primarily focused on the lower extremity. This study shows the incidence and clinical significance of vascular injury as a result of proximity trauma to the upper extremity in a large cohort of patients screened with color-flow duplex.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
A retrospective study was conducted from January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2012 on all patients undergoing color-flow duplex as a result of proximity penetrating trauma to the upper extremity. Data on injury location, mechanism, associated extremity and nonextremity injuries, and use and results of color-flow duplex were recorded and analyzed.

RESULTS
A total of 341 patients were identified who underwent color-flow duplex because of proximity penetrating trauma to the upper extremity. Injuries occurred in 370 extremities, with 253 located in the upper arm and 117 in the forearm. Overall, 18 (4.9%) injuries were identified on screening duplex ultrasound, of which 12 (3.2%) were arterial and 5 (1.4%) were venous. The therapeutic intervention rate for detected injuries to the upper arm was 1.6% (4/253), whereas no injuries of the forearm were identified that necessitated intervention.

CONCLUSIONS
Although color-flow duplex is an inexpensive and noninvasive means of detecting injuries as a result of proximity penetrating trauma, screening upper extremity wounds is unlikely to detect clinically significant arterial injuries in need of therapeutic intervention. Venous injuries in the form of deep venous thromboses were detected in only 1.4% of patients. These findings suggest that screening for proximity penetrating trauma of the upper extremity is unlikely to detect injuries at a rate that would prove cost-effective on formal decision analysis.