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Contemporary outcomes of traumatic popliteal artery injury repair from the popliteal scoring assessment for vascular extremity injury in trauma study



Traumatic popliteal artery injuries are associated with the greatest risk of limb loss of all peripheral vascular injuries, with amputation rates of 10% to 15%. The purpose of the present study was to examine the outcomes of patients who had undergone operative repair for traumatic popliteal arterial injuries and identify the factors independently associated with limb loss.


A multi-institutional retrospective review of all patients with traumatic popliteal artery injuries from 2007 to 2018 was performed. All the patients who had undergone operative repair of popliteal arterial injuries were included in the present analysis. The patients who had required a major lower extremity amputation (transtibial or transfemoral) were compared with those with successful limb salvage at the last follow-up. The significant predictors (P < .05) for amputation on univariate analysis were included in a multivariable analysis.


A total of 302 patients from 11 institutions were included in the present analysis. The median age was 32 years (interquartile range, 21-40 years), and 79% were men. The median follow-up was 72 days (interquartile range, 20-366 days). The overall major amputation rate was 13%. Primary repair had been performed in 17% of patients, patch repair in 2%, and interposition or bypass in 81%. One patient had undergone endovascular repair with stenting. The overall 1-year primary patency was 89%. Of the patients who had lost primary patency, 46% ultimately required major amputation. Early loss (within 30 days postoperatively) of primary patency was five times more frequent for the patients who had subsequently required amputation. On multivariate regression, the significant perioperative factors independently associated with major amputation included the initial POPSAVEIT (popliteal scoring assessment for vascular extremity injury in trauma) score, loss of primary patency, absence of detectable immediate postoperative pedal Doppler signals, and lack of postoperative antiplatelet therapy. Concomitant popliteal vein injury, popliteal injury location (P1, P2, P3), injury severity score, and tibial vs popliteal distal bypass target were not independently associated with amputation.


Traumatic popliteal artery injuries are associated with a significant rate of major amputation. The preoperative POPSAVEIT score remained independently associated with amputation after including the perioperative factors. The lack of postoperative pedal Doppler signals and loss of primary patency were highly associated with major amputation. The use of postoperative antiplatelet therapy was inversely associated with amputation, perhaps indicating a protective effect.

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