Vascular trauma occurs when a blood vessel sustains either a blunt injury or a penetrating injury.
Vascular trauma occurs when an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart) or a vein (a blood vessel that carries blood back to the heart) sustains an injury.
There are two main types of vascular trauma:
- Blunt injury – This type of trauma occurs when an artery or vein is crushed, pinched, twisted or stretched, but not pierced.
- Penetrating injury – This type of trauma occurs when an artery or vein is torn, punctured or otherwise pierced.
Vascular trauma can lead to complications such as bleeding (hemorrhaging) and blood clotting (thrombosis). When this happens, the resulting lack of circulation (ischemia) can cause even more complications to develop, including nerve and muscle damage.
Causes of Vascular Trauma
Some of the most common causes of vascular trauma include:
- Car and bicycle accidents
- Accidents within the home or the workplace
- Athletic injuries
- Violent injuries such as stab wounds and gunshot wounds
Symptoms of Vascular Trauma
The symptoms of vascular trauma will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury, but some common signs include:
- A lump beneath the skin
Diagnosing Vascular Trauma
In some instances—such as where the injury has caused external bleeding—physicians can diagnose vascular trauma based solely on a physical examination. In other cases, they will need to order one or more of the following imaging tests to better understand the extent of the injury:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
Treatment for Vascular Trauma
Treatment for vascular trauma will depend on the type of injury sustained, with more severe injuries sometimes requiring surgery. This might involve widening the injured blood vessel to restore blood flow or inserting a stent.
Although mild vascular trauma will often heal on its own, it’s still important to consult with a physician like the ones at Tampa General Hospital. This is because vascular trauma that heals incompletely or improperly can cause permanent weakness in the affected blood vessel and make the vessel more vulnerable to injuries in the future.