DESPITE potentially lethal consequences, partial arterial severance often goes unrecognized. The incompletely transected vessel, deprived of its natural tendency to retract and constrict, continues to bleed and may result in rapid exsanguination. If temporary arrest of hemorrhage does occur, recurrent bleeding, false aneurysm, or arteriovenous fistula are frequent late sequelae. Because of the preservation of pulses and generally adequate circulation distal to the site of injury, partially severed arteries display an all too common pattern of delayed recognition and inappropriate treatment.
The methods employed in the detection of arterial injuries vary with the location of the wound and the circumstances surrounding its occurrence. A careful history, thorough physical examination, and angiography are useful in establishing a diagnosis. Their reliability and accuracy in the problem of partial arterial severance has been evaluated and forms the basis of this report.
The history, physical findings, roentgenographs, and operative record of 57 patients known