Epistaxis Originating From Traumatic Pseudoaneurysm of the Internal Carotid Artery: Diagnosis and Endovascular Therapy

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Abstract

Posttraumatic pseudoaneurysm of the internal carotid artery (ICA) is an uncommon but potentially fatal cause of epistaxis. Because the onset of delayed bleeding from the time of injury is variable, prompt diagnosis of cavernous ICA pseudoaneurysm is often a clinical challenge. The relative urgency to evaluate for this disease is highlighted by the morbid nature of this entity. Optimal management demands rapid recognition and treatment to give the best functional outcome. The authors present a case series of six patients with skull base ICA pseudoaneurysm. A unifying feature in the majority of patients is the development of delayed, massive epistaxis. The time course for presentation of delayed life-threatening epistaxis ranged from 5 days to 9 weeks. Two patients exhibited the classic triad of unilateral blindness, orbital fractures, and massive epistaxis. All patients requiring intervention were successfully treated with endovascular embolization techniques that included detachable balloons and coils. The clinical and radiologic findings in this case series are presented. The relevant anatomy, diagnosis, and treatment of traumatic ICA pseudoaneurysm are reviewed. A contemporary treatment strategy is proposed.

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