Evaluation and Management of Peripheral
Vascular Injury
Part 1


This is a position article from members of the Western Trauma Association (WTA). Because there are no prospective randomized trials on the evaluation and management of peripheral vascular trauma, the algorithm is based on the expert opinion of WTA members and published observational studies. It may not be applicable at all hospitals caring for injured patients. The algorithm contains letters that correspond to lettered text that is intentionally concise. This Part I algorithm emphasizes evaluation, diagnosis, and need for operation versus a therapeutic procedure performed in interventional radiology, while a Part II algorithm (2011) will focus on operative techniques. Peripheral vascular injures defined as axillobrachial and branches in the upper extremity and femoropopliteal and branches in the lower extremity account for 40% to 75% of all vascular injuries treated in civilian trauma centers.1–4 With the exception of the axillary artery, the long tracks of named arteries and veins in the extremities make them particularly susceptible to either penetrating or blunt trauma. This fact coupled with the smaller diameter of many of these vessels (as compared with those in the thorax or abdomen) and the ability of the patient and others to control external hemorrhage with compression contribute to a low incidence of death in the field.