Venous thromboembolism after penetrating femoral and popliteal artery injuries: an opportunity for increased prevention


Background Trauma patients with penetrating vascular injuries have a higher rate of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The objective of this study was to determine the risk of VTE formation in penetrating femoral and popliteal vascular injuries and the effects of endovascular management of these injuries.

Methods A retrospective study of Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study registry was conducted during a 5-year period (2013-2017). All adult patients with a penetrating mechanism with femoral/popliteal vascular injuries were studied. Primary outcome was incidence of VTE in patients with isolated arterial injuries versus combined arterial/venous injuries. Secondary endpoints were intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS), hospital LOS and mortality. Statistical comparisons were accomplished using Fisher's exact tests, and parametric two-sample t-tests or non-parametric Wilcoxon rank-sum tests for categorical and continuous variables, respectively.

Results: Of the 865 patients with penetrating extremity vascular injuries, 207 had femoral or popliteal artery injuries. Patients with isolated arterial injuries (n=131) had a significantly lower deep venous thrombosis (DVT) rate compared with those with concurrent venous injuries (n=76) (3.1% vs. 13.2%, p=0.008). There were 14 patients in the study who developed DVTs. Among the four patients with isolated femoral or popliteal arterial injuries who had developed DVTs, three had an open repair. Among patients with isolated arterial injuries, those with DVT spend significantly more time on the ventilator (median=2 vs. 0, p=0.0020) compared with patients without DVT. Patients with DVT also had longer stay in the hospital (median=17.5 vs. 8, p=0.0664) and in the ICU (median=3 vs. 1, p=0.0585).

Conclusions: Risk of DVT exists in patients with penetrating isolated femoral and popliteal artery trauma. Open repair was associated with significantly higher DVT rates in isolated arterial injuries.

Level of evidence: Level IV therapeutic care/management.



femoral artery, penetrating trauma, popliteal artery, venous thromboembolism