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The demographics, etiology, and outcome of 1148 vascular injuries suffered by 978 patients reported from eight trauma centers in a largely rural state to a trauma registry (NCTR) data base containing 26,617 patients entered over a 39-month time interval were analyzed. Vascular injury patients were more frequently transferred by helicopter (18%), referred from other hospitals (45%), transfused more blood (8 units mean/24 hours), had higher mean ISS values (14 vs. 9), had lower systolic blood pressures on admission (113 vs. 128 mm Hg), had higher emergency department mortality (3.3%), and required immediate surgery more often (79%) when compared with nonvascular injury NCTR patients (p = 0.0001). Vascular injury patients had significantly longer hospital stays (13 vs. 10 days), longer ICU stays (5 vs. 4 days), and greater hospital costs ($22,500 vs. $12,300) while incurring more serious AIS values for the regions of the chest, abdomen, and extremities. One hundred twenty-nine (13.1%) died, 97 after admission compared with a 6.2% mortality for NCTR nonvascular injury victims. Forty-seven percent of vascular injuries were extremity lesions; the amputation rate was 1.3%; and management was most often by simple repair (41.9%) or patching (22.2%). Rural vascular injury patients had a high incidence of blunt trauma (43.4%) and were older (average, 51 years); they were transported by helicopter more often (30.3%) and were frequently referred from another hospital (77.8%); they had longer ICU, ventilator, and hospital stays and greater hospital charges; and they had higher mortality (14.2%) compared with urban vascular trauma victims. The data suggest a need for the trauma care system to focus on earlier recognition, stabilization, and rapid transportation of this most seriously injured group of patients.

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