Brachial artery is a major vessel of the arm. Physician’s use this artery to measure blood pressure. Brachial artery and its branches supply oxygenated blood to the arm and hand. Compared to other major arteries in the body, brachial artery is superficially located. Due to its superficial location, brachial artery is prone to injuries.
Brachial artery injury is commonly associated with fracture of the humerus bone, commonly known as arm bone. The greatest risk of trauma to brachial artery is in the middle of the arm where it lies near the shaft of the humerus bone and near the elbow.
Symptoms Of Brachial Artery Injury
Brachial artery injuries are diagnosed by physical examination, with the help of Doppler sonography and arteriography. Mostly penetrating and blunt trauma are responsible for brachial artery injury. Ischemia or lack of blood supply to the tissue is common after brachial artery injury which sometimes may lead to amputation of the upper limb.
The following signs and symptoms are present with brachial artery injury.
- History of external trauma.
- Pain in the arm, if there is fracture of the humerus.
- Bleeding from the arm if there is open wound.
- If the wound is closed without any lacerations and cuts, there is rapid collection of blood in the arm and a hematoma is formed while it is pulsating.
- Rapid pulsating hematoma in the arm is characteristic of brachial artery rupture.
- The affected hand turns cold and pale.
- Absence or weak pulse in the wrist joint.
- If the nerve is also injured, there may be signs of nerve damage.
- Decreased Doppler arterial blood pressure detected while performing Doppler study confirms diagnosis of brachial artery injury.
- If the diagnosis of brachial artery injury is difficult, angiography can be performed to confirm the symptoms.
Pain In Brachial Artery
Brachial artery is the branch of the axillary artery which travels from shoulder to elbow before bifurcating into radial and ulnar artery in the forearm. Pain throughout the arm is one of the symptoms of an obstruction in the brachial artery. It is also known as arm artery disease. It is a form of peripheral artery disease. Pain in the brachial artery or the arm can be due to atherosclerotic change in the artery.
In the beginning a person may not feel any symptom if the disease or atherosclerotic change is minor. The most common symptom felt is pain and discomfort in the arm that occurs when you use your arm and disappears when you rest. Besides pain in brachial artery, the other symptoms of obstruction are pale and cold hand, feeble pulse at the wrist joint, loss of muscle strength.
Pain in brachial artery primarily affects smokers. Those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and male are more prone to obstruction of brachial artery and its symptom of pain in brachial artery.
Treatment For Injury To Brachial Artery
Brachial artery is most frequently injured artery when there is trauma to the arm, especially with humerus fracture. The injury is usually diagnosed during clinical examination and with the help of X-ray, Doppler ultrasonagraphy. Depending on the severity of the trauma, patient may need immediate surgery to control bleeding and repair the artery.
Almost all brachial artery injuries can be managed successfully if there is no concomitant severe damage to the median nerve which is near the brachial artery. If there is associated bone fracture with brachial artery injury, repair of the artery is always done first, and then attention is focused on the bone reconstruction and repair of the soft tissue and muscles.