Objective: Blunt thoracic aortic injury (BTAI) is the second leading cause of death from blunt trauma. In the present study, we aimed to determine the outcomes of medical management (MM) for BTAI. We hypothesized from the results of several previously reported studies, that patients with a minimal aortic injury (BTAI grades 1 and 2) could safely be treated with definitive MM alone. Methods: The Aortic Trauma Foundation international prospective multicenter registry was used to examine the demographics, injury characteristics, management, and outcomes of patients with BTAI. We analyzed a subset of patients for whom MM was initiated as definitive therapy. Results: From November 2016 to April 2020, 432 patients (median age, 41 years; 76% male; median injury severity score, 34) with BTAI (Society for Vascular Surgery grade 1, 23.6%; grade 2, 14.4%; grade 3, 51.2%; grade 4, 10.9%) were evaluated. Of the 432 patients, 245 (57%) had received MM in the initial period and 114 (26.4%) had received MM as the planned definitive therapy (grade 1, 59.6%; grade 2, 23.7%; grade 3, 15.8%; grade 4, 0.9%). The most common mechanism of BTAI was a motor vehicle collision (60.4%). Hypotension was present on arrival in 74 patients (17.2%). Continuous titratable infusion of antihypertensive medication was used for 49.1%, followed by intermittent bolus administration (29.8%), with beta-blockers (74.6%) the most common agent used. Treatments were targeted to a goal systolic blood pressure for 83.3%, most often to a target goal systolic blood pressure <120 mm Hg (66.3%). The MM goals based on blood pressure control were attained in 64.0% (73 of 114). Twelve patients (10.5%; grade 1, 1; grade 2, 0; grade 3, 10; grade 4, 1) had required subsequent intervention after MM. Eleven patients (9.6%) had undergone thoracic endovascular aortic repair and one (0.9%) had required open repair for a grade 4 injury. The overall in-hospital mortality for patients selected for definitive MM was 7.9%. No aortic-related deaths had occurred in the patients receiving definitive MM. Conclusions: Approximately one in four patients with BTAI will receive MM as definitive therapy. The variation in the pharmacologic therapies used is considerable. MM for patients with minimal aortic injury (BTAI grades 1 and 2) is safe and effective, with a low overall intervention rate and no aortic-related deaths. These findings support the use of definitive MM for grade 2 BTAI.
- Blunt thoracic aortic injury
- Medical management
- Thoracic endovascular aortic repair
- Vascular injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine