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09.01.2019 | Original Article Open Access

Eighteen years’ experience of traumatic subclavian vascular injury in a tertiary referral trauma center

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Hao-Wei Kou, Chien-Hung Liao, Jen-Fu Huang, Chih-Po Hsu, Shang-Yu Wang, Chun-Hsiang Ou Yang, Shih-Ching Kang, Yu-Pao Hsu, Chi-Hsun Hsieh, I-Ming Kuo



Traumatic subclavian vascular injury (TSVI) is rare but often fatal. The precise diagnosis of TSVI remains challenging mainly because of its occult nature, less typical presentations, and being overlooked in the presence of polytrauma. Compared to penetrating injuries, it is even more difficult to identify TSVI in patients who have blunt injuries and no visible bleeding. The risk factors associated with TSVI in patients with thoracic trauma are unclear. The aims of this study were to identify risk factors for TSVI in a cohort of patients with thoracic vascular injuries and to report outcomes after clinical treatment.


From January 2009 to June 2017, 39586 patients were admitted to our hospital (a level I trauma center) due to trauma, and 136 patients with thoracic vascular injury were enrolled in this study. We retrospectively reviewed data from medical records including demographic characteristics, injury scoring systems (RTS, ISS, NISS, TRISS and AIS), management and outcomes. Patients were further divided into the TSVI group (patients with TSVI) and the non-TSVI group (patients with thoracic vascular injuries other than TSVI). Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to identify independent risk factors.


The enrolled 136 patients suffered mostly from blunt trauma (89.0%) and 22 of them had TSVI. When compared to the non-TSVI group, the TSVI group had lower Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) scores (p = 0.002; especially GCS ≤ 12), less concurrent abdominal injury (p < 0.001), lower Injury Severity Scales (ISS) (p = 0.007) and New Injury Severity Scales (NISS) (p < 0.002) but had higher Abbreviated Injury Scales (AIS) of the head ≥ 3 (p = 0.009) and rates of clavicular or scapular fractures (p = 0.013). No difference was detected between the two groups with regard to age, gender, trauma mechanism, vital signs on arrival, or rate of facial and extremities injury. In multivariate regression analyses, GCS ≤ 12, AIS of the head ≥ 3 and the presence of clavicular or scapular fractures were independent risk factors for TSVI (p = 0.026, p = 0.043 and p = 0.005, respectively) after adjustment for confounding factors. Open and endovascular repair were two surgical procedures utilized for these TSVI patients with an overall mortality rate of 18.2%. No difference was found between these groups with regard to mortality rate and the length of ICU stay, but the patients in the TSVI group had a shorter length of hospital stay.


Our results suggest that GCS ≤ 12, AIS of the head ≥ 3 and the presence of clavicular or scapular fractures were independent risk factors for TSVI in patients with thoracic vascular injuries. For patients with thoracic trauma, TSVI should be considered for prompt management when patients exhibit concurrent injuries to the head, clavicle or scapula.

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