Minimizing mortality and morbidity from iatrogenic arterial injuries: The need for early recognition and prompt repair

Joseph L. Mills, James E. Wiedeman, Jacob G. Robison, John W. Hallett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Seventy-one cases of iatrogenic arterial injury requiring repair at our institution from 1972 through 1984 were retrospectively analyzed. Cardiac catheterization accounted for most of the injuries (62%). Ten injuries (14%) resulted from angiography or percutaneous transluminal angioplasty; four injuries (5.6%) occurred after invasive monitoring devices were inserted. Six injuries (8.45%) stemmed from complications of intra-aortic balloon pump insertion, whereas the remainder occurred during various surgical procedures. Most injuries were in the femoral (42.3%) and brachial (38.1%) locations. Thrombectomy (23.9%) and resection with end-to-end anastomosis (35.2%) were the repairs most commonly performed. Morbidity and mortality were low; only one case resulted in limb loss, and neither of the two deaths resulted from the vascular repair itself. On the basis of our experience, we can make certain recommendations with regard to specific injuries. First, the conservative approach to brachial artery thrombosis occurring after catheterization is early exploration and repair. Second, although most injuries can be managed simply with thrombectomy and primary repair, iliofemoral injuries are more likely to require complex reconstructive techniques. Third, large-bore catheter injuries to the carotid artery require immediate exploration and repair to prevent thrombosis, pseudoaneurysm, and cerebral embolism. Fourth, symptoms of nerve compression after transaxillary arteriography require prompt exploration. Our results indicate that, depending on the site of injury, individualized techniques of varying complexity are required for repair. In general, serious sequelae can be minimized by early recognition, prompt operation, and adherence to sound vascular surgical principles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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