Transarterial embolization of the external carotid artery in the treatment of life-threatening hemorrhage following blunt maxillofacial trauma
Background. Severe bleeding after blunt maxillofacial trauma is a rare but life-threatening event. Non-responders to conventional treatment options with surgically inaccessible bleeding points can be treated by transarterial embolization (TAE) of the external carotid artery (ECA) or its branches. Case series on such embolizations are small; considering the relatively high incidence of maxillofacial trauma, the ECA TAE procedure has been hypothesized either underused or underreported. In addition, the literature on the ECA TAE using novel non-adhesive liquid embolization agents is remarkably scarce.
Patients and methods. PubMed review was performed to identify the ECA TAE literature in the context of blunt maxillofacial trauma. If available, the location of the ECA injury, the location of embolization, the chosen embolization agent, and efficacy and safety of the TAE were noted for each case. Survival prognostic factors were also reviewed. Additionally, we present an illustrative TAE case using a precipitating hydrophobic injectable liquid (PHIL) to safely and effectively control a massive bleeding originating bilaterally in the ECA territories.
Conclusions. Based on a review of 205 cases, the efficacy of TAE is 79,4 – 100%, while the rate of major complications is about 2 – 4%. Successful TAE hemostasis, Glasgow Coma Scale score ≥ 8 at presentation, injury severity score ≤ 32, shock index ≤ 1.1 before TAE and ≤ 0.8 after TAE are significantly correlated with higher survival rate. PHIL allows for fast yet punctilious application, thus saving invaluable time in life-threatening situations while simultaneously diminishing the possibility of inadvertent injection into the ECA-internal carotid artery (ICA) anastomoses.
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