Value of spiral CT in hemodynamically stable patients following blunt chest trauma

Richard Tello, Reginald F. Munden, Stuart Hooton, Kris Kandarpa, Robert Pugatch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Introduction: Features of spiral CT (SCT) - fast scanning, dynamic injection of contrast allowing optimal vessel opacification, and supplemental multiplanar imaging promises to provide increased accuracy in the diagnosis of acute and non acute thoracic vascular disease. Recent work demonstrating the cost effective triage of hemodynamically stable patients after blunt chest trauma for angiography based on dynamic CT findings has prompted an investigation into the accuracy of SCT in this clinical setting. Methods: A retrospective review of all patients seen in the emergency department over the period of one year for aortic, thoracic, or blunt chest trauma evaluation was performed (74 patients) and all SCT scans available were reviewed and data reformatted for optimal delineation of pathology using maximum intensity projection and multiplanar reformation. The accuracy and predictive positive and negative values of SCT were calculated with respect to angiography, surgical, and/or clinical follow up evaluation Results: Twenty three (31%) patients went directly to angiography owing to mediastinal widening on chest film and hemodynamic instability, of which four were positive and required emergent surgery. Seven hemodynamically stable patients (9%) had noncontrast SCT owing to mediastinal widening on chest film, all of which had angiography with none having great vessel trauma. Fourty four hemodynamically stable patients (60%) had contrast enhanced SCT (ceSCT), of which five (11%) were abnormal and underwent angiography, four of these were positive for aortic damage, one for a subclavian artery laceration. Of the remaining 39 patients who had normal ceSCT; five had angiography, all of which were normal. Of the remaining 34 patients that had normal ceSCT none had adverse outcome on clinical follow-up, minimum of 12 months. Conclusion: The predictive positive value for aortic trauma of ceSCT in blunt trauma is 80%, with a predictive negative value of 100%, indicating that it is feasible for SCT to be a first line exam in blunt chest trauma in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-452
Number of pages6
JournalComputerized Medical Imaging and Graphics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Aortic laceration
  • Aortography
  • CT angiography
  • Helical CT
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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