During a 6 year period, 35 patients with 56 popliteal vascular injuries were treated. Thirty-three arteries and 23 popliteal veins were affected. Fifty-four percent of the patients had both an arterial and a venous injury. Twenty injuries were due to penetrating trauma and 15 injuries to blunt force. An overall amputation rate of 16 percent followed attempts at vascular repair. Blunt injuries were associated with a 30 percent amputation rate, whereas penetrating injuries were associated with only a 5 percent amputation rate. When our results were reviewed and compared with those of others, several factors important for determining the rate of limb salvage in popliteal vascular injuries were noted: (1) early recognition and prompt treatment, (2) absence of blunt injury with attendant soft tissue damage; (3) resection of damaged arterial tissue with end-to-end anastomosis or saphenous vein grafting in conjunction with the liberal employment of local heparin and a Fogarty catheter thrombectomy, (4) repair of concomitant popliteal venous injuries; (5) use of completion arteriography to reveal technical errors amenable to correction at time of operation; and (6) fasciotomy, used liberally but selectively.
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