ZocdocAnswersI got a 3-4 inch deep knife wound in my leg. What should I do?

Question

I got a 3-4 inch deep knife wound in my leg. What should I do?

I went to ER and they stitched the skin up, but i was wondering if it hit an artery? when can I walk? and when will the muscles and artery heal? please help me

Answer

I'm sorry to hear about your injury, and I'm glad to hear that you were evaluated and treated in an emergency department. I will address your question regarding the artery first. First off, hitting an artery is usually a pretty big deal and would certainly depend on the location and depth of your injury. Certainly, a 3-4 inch deep injury is certainly deep enough to hit an artery, but location is also important. Arteries are high-pressure blood vessels, and hence, an arterial injury is usually not subtle. In other words, an arterial injury would likely result in continuous and profuse bleeding. Even if the emergency room doctors were able to stitch up the wound, an arterial injury would continue to bleed, likely causing either causing continued wound bleeding or a hematoma (a blood pocket). If none of these things occurred, I imagine that you likely did not have a significant arterial injury. It is possible that you may have created a minor injury in the arterial wall, which could cause a pseudoaneurysm. The symptoms of this could range from nothing to a palpable mass to a rupture; because the symptoms of this are so variable, it is important to follow up with your physician regarding this injury and let him/her know should you develop any of these symptoms. Arterial injuries can take weeks to months to heal, but even then, you could still develop a pseudoaneurysm if the injury was severe enough. Next, we'll address the muscle injury. In regards to your muscle injury, recovery from this can take weeks. You can technically walk on this leg since your bone is presumably not broken; you may be weak and hurt, but you can walk. As always, your most definitive source for medical evaluation is your own doctor or orthopaedic surgeon, so please consult them. Should your symptoms worsen or change, please call your physician immediately, or in the case of an emergency, please call 911.

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