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South African Journal of Surgery

On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361


BANDERKER, M A et al. Civilian popliteal artery injuries. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2012, vol.50, n.4, pp.119-123. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: Civilian popliteal artery injuries are associated with significant amputation rates. AIM: The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with limb loss in patients with popliteal artery injuries. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We performed a retrospective chart review of prospectively collected data on patients with popliteal artery injuries presenting to the Trauma Centre at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 2008. Demographic data, mechanism of injury, haemodynamic status, limb viability, special investigations, associated injuries, ischaemic time, surgical treatment and amputation rates were analysed. RESULTS: One hundred and thirty-six patients with popliteal artery injuries were identified. Penetrating and blunt trauma accounted for 81 (59.6%) and 55 (40.4%) injuries, respectively. Associated injuries included fractures in 66 patients (48.6%), knee dislocations in 29 (21.3%) and popliteal vein injuries in 59 (43.4%). Fifty-seven patients (41.9%) presented with a compartment syndrome. Arterial injuries were treated with reversed vein grafting in 68 patients, primary anastomosis in 33, prosthetic graft insertion in 11, and primary amputation in 7. Thirty-two patients underwent delayed amputation, giving an overall amputation rate of 37.5%. A delay of more than 7 hours of ischaemic time between injury and definitive repair (p=0.0236) and the presence of a compartment syndrome (p=0.003) were significantly associated with an increased amputation rate. CONCLUSION: The most significant factors associated with the high amputation rate of 37.5% were an ischaemic time longer than 7 hours, and the presence of a compartment syndrome.

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