Natural history and management of blunt traumatic pseudoaneurysms of the internal carotid artery: The harbor view algorithm based off a 10-year experience

Ryan P. Morton, Michael R. Levitt, Samuel Emerson, Basavaraj V. Ghodke, Danial K. Hallam, Laligam N. Sekhar, Louis J. Kim, Randall M. Chesnut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: To define the natural history of, and treatment strategy for, blunt traumatic internal carotid artery (ICA) pseudoaneurysms. Background: The natural history and management of traumatic ICA pseudoaneurysms is controversial. Methods: We retrospectively identified all traumatic ICA pseudoaneurysms diagnosed on head/neck computed tomographic angiography at a highvolume trauma center over a 10-year period. Radiographic and clinical data were recorded, and a treatment algorithm was derived. Results: Forty-three pseudoaneurysms were diagnosed in 39 patients. All patients were treated with daily aspirin unless contraindicated, and 82% underwent daily transcranial Doppler ultrasonography with embolic monitoring. A rate of 8 or more emboli per hour was predictive of embolic stroke (P = 0.0076). Acute ischemic or embolic stroke was seen in 7 patients (16%) with an overall mortality in this subpopulation of 42% (n = 3). Four patients (9%) underwent acute surgical treatment (parent vessel sacrifice and/or arterial bypass) for ongoing ischemia. Long-term radiographic and clinical follow-up was obtained for 36 surviving patients (mean = 8 months; range: 1 week-5 years), all of whom were maintained on daily aspirin. No delayed ischemic or embolic events were reported. For ICA pseudoaneurysms treated with aspirin and observation alone, 9 (28%) increased in size, 17 (53%) decreased or stabilized, and 6 (19%) resolved. Enlargement of 5 mm or more in maximal diameter underwent delayed endovascular treatment with a 100% obliteration rate and no complications. Conclusions: Traumatic ICA pseudoaneurysms are safely treated with daily aspirin, embolic monitoring, and radiographic surveillance. Acute stroke or hemorrhage, or delayed radiographic progression, are indications for endovascular or surgical treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-826
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Blunt cerebrovascular injury
  • Carotid cavernous fistula
  • Pseudoaneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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