A retrospective audit of computed tomography angiography in penetrating wound of lower limb at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital

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INTRODUCTION: There is high rate of violence-related injuries in South Africa. These injuries include gunshot wounds, stab wounds and blunt force trauma. Many patients with penetrating wounds present in the emergency department with vascular injuries. Penetrating wounds of lower limbs with or without arterial injuries are managed according to trauma protocols. Patients presenting hard signs vascular injury are transferred to theatre for immediate exploration and repair. Patients with soft signs are clinically examined and, if indicated, imaging is planned. Clinical examination is crucial in diagnosing arterial injuries in penetrating limb injuries and AnkleBrachial index (ABI) is an important parameter to rule out arterial injuries. Doppler ultrasound is a good, non-invasive imaging modality but is operator dependent. Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) has excellent outcomes in diagnosing arterial injuries in penetrating wounds of lower limb, with a sensitivity and a specificity close to 100%. CTA is a non-invasive, rapid, and reliable modality, but subjects the patient to radiation exposure. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and type of vascular injuries in penetrating injuries of lower limb in on South African academic hospital. METHOD: A retrospective audit of CTAs done for penetrating wounds of lower limbs to rule out vascular injuries at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH) was executed. Data of CTAs performed from January 2017 to December 2018 were retrieved from the imaging PACS of the CHBAH radiology department. Ethics approval was obtained from HREC of the University of Witwatersrand, and data was captured from the relevant records. RESULTS: Descriptive statistics were used to describe the characteristics of the population, in the form graphs and figures. Data of 91 CTAs were collected. The average age of subjects was 32.2 years, and 83 of the cohort were males. The most common mechanism of injury was a gunshot wound. Only one case out of 91 of the collected CTAs was positive for arterial injury. CONCLUSIONS: Low rate of positive CTA studies over span of a 2-year period emphasizes the need for thorough examination for the suitability of a CTA. This approach avoids unnecessary radiation exposure to the patients and is cost effective. In low-risk patients, doppler ultrasound should be considered for imaging of potential arterial injuries and has no radiation exposure. The use of lower threshold value of ABI is an option for patients presenting with soft signs of arterial injuries. Revising the management protocol for penetrating injuries of lower limb used by trauma surgeons at CHBAH for requesting CTAs will be cost effective by avoiding unnecessary imaging.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Medicine (MMed) in Diagnostic Radiology to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, School of Clinical Medicine, Johannesburg, 2023
Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA), Arterial injuries, Wounds, Blunt force trauma