Impact of venorrhaphy and vein ligation in isolated lower-extremity venous injuries on venous thromboembolism and edema

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Following venous injury, venorrhaphy can restore outflow, although it risks thrombosis and venous thromboembolism (VTE). Vein ligation is a faster option, although it potentially risks extremity edema. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the management of venous injury on VTE and extremity edema in patients with isolated lower-extremity venous injuries.

METHODS

Patients with common iliac, external iliac, and femoral venous injuries over a 10-year period were stratified by age, shock, management of venous injury, injury severity, and timing and type of anticoagulation. Outcomes included development of extremity edema and VTE (pulmonary embolism, deep venous thrombosis). Outcomes were then evaluated to determine risk factors for symptomatic lower-extremity edema and VTE by the management of venous injuries.

RESULTS

Eighty-four patients were identified: 20 common iliac, 27 external iliac, 37 femoral. Forty-nine underwent vein repair and 35 underwent vein ligation. Ninety-three percent were male with a mean Injury Severity Score and Glasgow Coma Scale score of 17 and 14, respectively. Venous thromboembolism occurred in 18 (21%), 15 (18%) deep venous thrombosis, and 4 (5%) pulmonary embolisms. Thirty-two (38%) patients developed lower-extremity edema. Those who underwent vein ligation had a greater degree of shock on presentation (RBC transfusions, 14 vs. 8 units; p = 0.03) and were more likely to receive prophylactic fasciotomies (60% vs. 33%, p = 0.01). There was no difference in time to or type of chemoprophylaxis between patients who underwent vein repair and those who received vein ligation. However, patients with vein ligation had fewer episodes of VTE (9% vs. 31%, p = 0.02) with no difference in symptomatic lower-extremity edema (37% vs. 39%, p = 0.88) or amputation rates (0% vs. 2%, p = 0.99).

CONCLUSION

Vein repair had a higher incidence of VTE while providing no additional benefit in reducing symptomatic extremity edema compared to ligation in patients suffering venous injury. Ligation of most extremity venous injuries can be performed without increasing patient morbidity.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Therapeutic study, level IV.

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