A 20-year retrospective evaluation of vascular trauma in infants and children was undertaken. The study included 53 cases of blunt and penetrating vascular injuries in pediatric patients. There were 36 males and 17 females ranging in age from 24 days to 14 years (average, 10 years). The most frequently encountered sites of arterial trauma were the brachial or superficial femoral artery, and of venous trauma the inferior vena cava. Any patient presenting to the Emergency Center with an injury in proximity to a major vessel, hematoma formation, audible bruit, or palpable thrill underwent prompt arteriography or immediate operative exploration of the injury sit. All patients in the series were managed operatively. There were 41 major arterial and 32 major venous injuries. No patient required a major amputation. Most injuries were repaired by primary closure or segmental resection and end-to-end anastomosis; interposition vein grafts and substitute conduits were used in four patients with more extensive injuries. A 13% operative mortality was encountered: the most frequent cause of death was intraoperative exsanguinating hemorrhage. The triad for successful management of vascular trauma in pediatric patients is: 1) a high index of suspicion, 2) performance of aggressive diagnostic studies when indicated, and 3) prompt surgical intervention.
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