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Am Surg. 2003 Sep;69(9):804-7.

Reliability of physical examination as a predictor of vascular injury after penetrating neck trauma.

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Department of Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.


The policy of routine angiography (ANG) for all penetrating neck wounds results in a high rate of negative studies. The medical records of all patients who presented to Wishard Memorial Hospital and Methodist Hospital of Indiana with penetrating injuries to the neck from January 1992 to April 2001 were reviewed. All patients who were hemodynamically stable underwent four-vessel ANG to evaluate for vascular injury irrespective of findings on physical examination (PE). A total of 216 patients sustained penetrating neck injuries. Patients were divided according to positive or negative PE findings and the results of ANG. Of the 63 patients with a positive PE, 40 (68%) also had a positive ANG finding. Of the 89 patients with negative PE, only 3 had a positive ANG and none of these injuries required operative repair. PE therefore had a 93 per cent sensitivity (SEN) and a 97 per cent negative predictive value (NPV) for predicting the results of ANG. The SEN and NPV of PE for detecting vascular injuries requiring operative repair were both 100 per cent. In this series, no patient with a negative PE had a vascular injury that required operative repair, irrespective of zone of injury. Routine ANG may therefore be unnecessary for patients with penetrating neck injuries and a negative PE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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