Vascular Trauma

The term ‘vascular trauma’ refers to damage or injury to a blood vessel- an artery, which carries blood away from the heart, or a vein, which carry blood back to the heart from different organs. These injuries are categorized by the type of trauma that cause them: blunt or penetrating injury.

• Blunt injury can occur if a blood vessel is crushed or stretched.

• penetrating injury can occur if a blood vessel is punctured, torn or severed.

Both the types of vascular trauma can cause the blood vessel to clot (thrombosis) and interrupt blood flow to an organ, or cause bleeding, leading to life-threatening hemorrhage.

Vascular trauma results from a wide range of causes:

Injury (accidents, falls, cuts, etc.)


Pinching of a vein or artery

Dislocation of a bone

Piercing of a vein, such as with insertion of an IV.

Vascular injury has two main consequences- hemorrhage and ischemia. Unrecognized and uncontrolled hemorrhage can lead to demise of the trauma patient while unrecognized and untreated ischemia can lead to stroke, limb loss, bowel necrosis and multiple organ failure.