An artery or vein that’s crushed or stretched is said to have sustained a blunt injury or blunt force trauma, while an artery or vein that’s severed, punctured, or torn is said to have a penetrating injury.
Either type of vascular trauma can cause thrombosis, which is the formation of blood clots. Likewise, both types of trauma can also interfere with blood flow to an organ or an extremity, or result in massive blood loss that can lead to a life-threatening hemorrhage.
Virtually any accident or physical activity can lead to vascular trauma. Common causes of artery and vein injury include work-related accidents, accidents at home, traumatic falls, sports-related injuries, bicycle accidents, automobile accidents, domestic violence injuries, and violent crime, including gunshot injuries.
Here’s one simple example of how you might sustain vascular trauma in a fall: If you fracture your upper arm bone just above the elbow when you hit the ground, the fracture might inflict trauma on your brachial artery, which crosses your elbow joint.
If a vascular injury is obvious or uncomplicated, the team at NEOVA may be able to diagnose the problem during a physical exam. For patients with multiple injuries, a quick and accurate assessment will help medical specialists — including trauma surgeons, vascular surgeons, and orthopedic surgeons, among others — decide which injury is most urgent.
For internal vascular injuries, diagnostic testing can help reveal the nature and scope of the injury, as well as how it should be treated. Duplex ultrasound scanning is commonly used to show the extent of the damage to blood vessel structure, as well as how it impacts blood flow.
No matter where it occurs in your body, trauma to arteries or veins may need to be repaired surgically. Surgical procedures commonly used to address vascular trauma include:
Surgical bypass surgery
This procedure involves applying a graft to repair a blood vessel; if the vessel is a vein, it can sometimes simply be tied off
This less invasive procedure uses a tiny balloon to widen injured vessels and restore blood flow; installing a stent or graft can strengthen the vessel and help keep it open
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