n South African Journal of Surgery - Fluctuating pulse deficits associated with intimal arterial injury following gunshot wounds of the extremity - a sign not to be missed : case report




Gunshot wounds may result in intimal arterial injury without breach of the arterial wall integrity. Haemorrhage, haematoma and a pulse deficit are therefore not always found. We report on two cases of lower extremity gunshot wounds with temporal variations in the clinical and radiological assessment of the pedal pulses. In both cases surgical exploration revealed intact arterial vessel walls but significant intimal injury with overlying thrombus. We propose that the pulse deficits were due to distal thromboembolism. Subsequent clot lysis led to a return of the original pulse deficit. Variation in the distal pulses in patients with gunshot wounds of the extremities should alert one of the possibility of an intimal arterial injury; imaging of the vessels is therefore advised.


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