“No zone” approach in penetrating neck trauma reduces unnecessary computed tomography angiography and negative explorations

Kareem Ibraheem, Muhammad Khan, Peter Rhee, Asad Azim, Terence OKeeffe, Andrew Tang, Narong Kulvatunyou, Bellal Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background The most recent management guidelines advocate computed tomography angiography (CTA) for any suspected vascular or aero-digestive injuries in all zones and give zone II injuries special consideration. We hypothesized that physical examination can safely guide CTA use in a “no zone” approach. Methods An 8-year retrospective analysis of all adult trauma patients with penetrating neck trauma (PNT) was performed. We included all patients in whom the platysma was violated. Patients were classified into three groups as follows: hard signs, soft signs, and asymptomatic. CTA use, positive CTA (contrast extravasation, dissection, or intimal flap) and operative details were reported. Primary outcomes were positive CTA and therapeutic neck exploration (TNE) (defined by repair of major vascular or aero-digestive injuries). Results A total of 337 patients with PNT met the inclusion criteria. Eighty-two patients had hard signs and all of them went to the operating room, of which 59 (72%) had TNE. One hundred fifty-six patients had soft signs, of which CTA was performed in 121 (78%), with positive findings in 12 (10%) patients. The remaining 35 (22%) underwent initial neck exploration, of which 14 (40%) were therapeutic yielding a high rate of negative exploration. Ninty-nine patients were asymptomatic, of which CTA was performed in 79 (80%), with positive findings in 3 (4%), however, none of these patients required TNE. On sub analysis based on symptoms, there was no difference in the rate of TNE between the neck zones in patients with hard signs (P = 0.23) or soft signs (P = 0.51). Regardless of the zone of injury, asymptomatic patients did not require a TNE. Conclusions Physical examination regardless of the zone of injury should be the primary guide to CTA or TNE in patients with PNT. Following traditional zone-based guidelines can result in unnecessary negative explorations in patients with soft signs and may need rethinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-120
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • CT angiography
  • Neck trauma
  • Neck zones
  • Therapeutic neck exploration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of '“No zone” approach in penetrating neck trauma reduces unnecessary computed tomography angiography and negative explorations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this