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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2013 June;68(3):251-62

language: English

Thoracic vessel injury

Lim J. Y., Wolf A. S., Flores R. M.

Division of Thoracic Surgery, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY, USA


Thoracic trauma occurs in an estimated 25% of all trauma victims, with approximately 50% of trauma mortalities attributable to these injuries. Only 4% of thoracic traumas involve injuries to thoracic vessels, including the aorta, innominate veins and artery, left carotid artery, internal mammaries, and pulmonary hilar vessels. These vascular injuries can range from minor to major with advances in prehospital management increasing the number of patients surviving in the field and presenting to the hospital with life-threatening vascular injuries. Rapid assessment during the initial survey and interventions to maintain airway, breathing, and circulation of the patient can be life-saving. The patient’s hemodynamic status will often dictate the extent of the initial workup or whether the patient requires emergent operation. Stable patients can undergo further assessment and detailed imaging, such as computed tomography and/or angiography. Treatment of thoracic vessel injuries may include advanced endovascular techniques, traditional open surgery, or non-operative management with observation. The following review systematically details the initial workup, evaluation and management techniques of thoracic vessel injuries.

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