Background: Both diagnostic and therapeutic options in the management of iatrogenic false aneurysms have changed dramatically in the last decade, with surgery being required only rarely.
Objective: To describe our experience, techniques and results in treating pseudoaneurysms at a large medical center with frequent arterial interventions. We emphasize upper limb lesions.
Materials and Methods: We reviewed the data of all consecutive patients diagnosed by color-coded duplex Doppler between August 1992 and July 1998 as having upper limb and lower limb pseudoaneurysms (mainly post- catheterization). We accumulated 107 false aneurysms (mainly post- catheterization lesions): 5 were upper limb lesions and 102 were groin aneurysms.
Results: In the lower limb cases 94 of the 102 lesions were not operated upon (92.1%). Seventy lower limb cases were treated non-operatively by ultrasound-guided compression obliteration with a 95.7% success rate (67 cases). Two cases were treated by percutaneous thrombin injection (2%) and 23 by observation only (22.5%). Altogether 12 patients underwent surgery (11.2%): 4 upper extremity and 8 lower extremity cases. None of the lower limb group suffered serious complications regardless of treatment, but all five upper limb cases did, four of them necessitating surgical intervention. Three of the five upper limb cases had a grave outcome with severe or permanent or neurological damage.
Conclusion: Most post- catheterization pseudoaneurysms can be managed non-surgically. False aneurysms in the upper extremity are rare, comprising less than 2% of all lesions. However, upper extremity pseudoaneurysms present a potentially more serious complication and require early diagnosis and prompt intervention to minimize the high complication rate and serious long-term sequelae. Prevention can be achieved by proper puncture technique and site selection, and correct post-procedure hemostatic compression with or without an external device. Some upper limb lesions are avoidable if the axillary artery is not punctured.