Is Routine Spiral CT-Chest Justified in Evaluation of the Major Blunt Trauma Patients?

Hammad, Abdel-Mohsen M.; Regal, Mohamed A.
February 2009
European Journal of Trauma & Emergency Surgery;Feb2009, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p31
Academic Journal
New generation spiral CT scanners permit multiple consecutive CT examinations on the same trauma patient in a short period of time. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic role and therapeutic impact of routine spiral CT chest in multiply injured patients or patients with a suspicious mechanism of injury. This prospective study included 443 patients with blunt chest trauma. All patients underwent a spiral CT chest as part of their routine evaluation. Radiological interpretation of chest x-rays, CT scan findings, and changes in management plan guided by these findings were recorded. The mechanism of injury was road traffic accidents in 422 patients (95.26%). Out of the 167 patients with normal chest radiograph, 136 (81.43%) were found to have an abnormality on chest CT. The management was changed in the form of additional investigations or unplanned intervention in 92 patients (20.76%). Additional investigations included transoesophageal echocardiography (n = 7), bronchoscopy (n = 13), transfer to higher center for aortography (n = 2). Intercostal tubes (n = 55), thoracotomies (n = 4), fixation of sternal fracture (n = 9), laparotomy (n = 1) and spinalfixation (n = 1) were performed following the CT scan. Although the incidence of significant injuries identified by the chest CT scan was low, it did prompt immediate intervention in a significant number of patients; some of them had potentially life-threatening injuries. Routine use of CT scanning is warranted in early evaluation of polytrauma patients or patients with severe blunt chest trauma.


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