Treatment of blunt cerebrovascular injuries: Anticoagulants or antiplatelet agents?

Kamil Hanna, Molly Douglas, Samer Asmar, Muhammad Khurrum, Letitia Bible, Lourdes Castanon, Michael Ditillo, Narong Kulvatunyou, Bellal Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Blunt cerebrovascular injury (BCVI) is associated with cerebrovascular accidents (CVA). Early therapy with antiplatelet agents or anticoagulants is recommended. There are limited data comparing the effectiveness of these treatments. The aim of our study was to compare outcomes between BCVI patients who received anticoagulants versus those who received antiplatelet agents. METHODS We performed an (2011-2015) analysis of the Nationwide Readmission Database and included all adult trauma patients 18 years or older who had an isolated BCVI (other body regions Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS] < 3). Head injury patients or those who developed a CVA during the index admission were excluded. Patients were stratified into anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents. Propensity score matching was performed (1:1 ratio) to control for demographics, comorbidities, BCVI grade, distribution, and severity of injuries. Outcomes were readmission with CVA and mortality within 6 months. RESULTS A total of 725 BCVI patients were identified. A matched cohort of 370 patients (antiplatelet agents, 185; anticoagulants, 185) was obtained. Mean age was 50 ± 15 years, neck AIS was 3 (3,4), and Injury Severity Score was 12 (9-17). The majority of the patients (69%) had high-grade BCVI (AIS ≥ 3). Overall, 3.7% were readmitted with CVA and 3% died within 6 months. Patients who received anticoagulants had a lower rate of readmission with CVA (1.8% vs. 5.72%; p = 0.03), and a lower rate of 6-month mortality (1.3% vs. 4.9%; p = 0.03). There was no significant difference between the two groups reading the median time to stroke (9 days vs. 6 days; p = 0.12). CONCLUSION The BCVI patients on CVA prophylaxis for BCVI have a 3.7% rate of stroke after discharge. Compared with antiplatelet agents, anticoagulants are associated with lower rates of CVA in the first 6-month postdischarge. Further studies are required to identify the optimal agent to prevent CVA in this high-risk subset of trauma patients. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic, level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Blunt cerebrovascular injury
  • Nationwide Readmission Database
  • anticoagulants
  • antiplatelet agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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