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Chin Med J (Engl). 2013 Feb;126(3):442-5.

Grading system modification and management of blunt aortic injury.

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Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA, USA.



The traditional approach to blunt aortic injury (BAI) has been emergent intervention. This study aimed to utilize a modified imaging grading system that may allow us to categorize these injuries as needing emergent, urgent, or non-operative management.


From January 2003 to December 2011, 28 patients with BAI were managed at our institution. Imaging and medical records were reviewed retrospectively. BAI was classified into 4 grades based on imaging studies. Grade Ia: intimal tear, Grade Ib: intramural hematoma; Grade II: intimal injury with periaotic hematoma; Grade IIIa: aortic transection with pseudoaneurysm, Grade IIIb: multiple aortic injuries; and Grade IV: free rupture. Progression and clinical outcomes of ABI were analyzed.


Of the 28 patients, 22 were males and 6 were females with mean age of 38 (range, 7 - 69) years. Twenty-five (89.3%) had descending thoracic aortic injury, two (7.1%) had abdominal aortic injury and one (3.6%) presented with multiple aortic injuries. Three patients (10.7%) with Grade I, 1 (3.6%) Grade II, 22 (78.6%) Grade III, and 2 (7.1%) Grade IV injuries. Twenty-five patients underwent thoracic endovascular aortic repair and 3 were managed medically. Median time between injury and surgical intervention was (2 ± 1) days. One (3.6%) patient developed paraplegia after thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR). One Type 2 endoleak spontaneously sealed within 1 month, and another patient died from ruptured Type 1 endoleak 3 years later. Median follow-up time was 16 (range, 1 - 96) months. Perioperative 30-day mortality rate was 3.6%.


This study based on our modified BAI grading system indicated that Grade I BAI can be managed conservatively. Grade II injury requires close observation and repeated computerized tomography angiogram (CTA) within 48 - 72 hours. If injury appears worse on follow up imaging, surgery should be performed. Delayed repair of Grade III BAI is acceptable if associated life threatening traumatic injuries need to be addressed first.

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