Hemothorax and persistent thoracic bleeding is frequently an indication for thoracotomy after trauma. Unfortunately, the source of the hemorrhage is often not identified. Presently, selective arteriography and transcatheter embolization (SATE) offers a good and safe alternative to localize and control hemorrhage from arterial injuries in selected patients. The records of eight patients who underwent SATE were reviewed. There were six blunt and two penetrating chest injuries. Four patients had significant preexisting medical comorbidities. Three patients with blunt injuries had undergone exploratory thoracotomy, but continued to bleed postoperatively. In three patients, angiography was indicated for associated thoracic and pelvic injuries, and five patients had SATE specifically due to thoracic hemorrhage. In all patients, SATE was effective to diagnose and control the hemorrhage. There were no complications related to the SATE procedure. Two patients died secondary to severe cerebral injuries. Given hemodynamic stability, SATE can be considered in patients who have already had a thoracotomy, have significant associated medical conditions, or those in need of other angiographic studies. Careful technique and a readiness to abandon SATE in unstable patients or when a suitable catheter position cannot be achieved are important technical points.
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