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Peripheral Nerve Lesions Associated With Missile-induced Pseudoaneurysms

Zoran Roganović, Sidor Mišović, Goran Kronja, Milenko Savić

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Object Reports of traumatic pseudoaneurysms associated with nerve compression are rare, and typically do not focus on the damaged nerves. This prospective study examines the clinical presentation, management, and treatment outcome of such nerve injuries. Methods Between 1991 and 1995, 22 patients with a missile-induced nerve injury associated with a pseudoaneurysm were treated surgically at the Belgrade Military Medical Academy. The artery and nerves involved with the injury were treated using appropriate surgical procedures, and both the sensorimotor deficit and pain intensity were assessed. Results The occurrence of a pulsatile mass depended on the location of the pseudoaneurysm (p = 0.003) and correlated significantly with the preoperative diagnosis (p < 0.001). In cases in which neurological worsening was due exclusively to the compressive effect of the pseudoaneurysm, the nerves involved were found to be in anatomical continuity intraoperatively, and recovery depended on the actual nerve damage and surgical procedure required (neurolysis or nerve grafting). A symptomatic nerve compression duration of more than 3.5 days was the critical factor that determined if neurapraxia developed into severe nerve damage (p = 0.014). Pain syndromes responded well and rapidly to the surgical treatment (p < 0.001). Conclusions Whether or not a missile-induced pseudoaneurysm associated with a nerve lesion will be recognized before surgery depends on its location and clinical presentation. The nerves involved almost invariably exhibit a lesion in continuity, but the resulting nerve damage can be severe, particularly if surgery is delayed for more than 3 to 4 days after neurological worsening has begun. A successful outcome may be expected if an appropriate surgical technique (neurolysis or grafting) is chosen on the basis of the intraoperative discovery of nerve action potentials.