Evaluation of the role of chest computed tomography in the management of trauma patients

L. B. Haramati, J. G. Hochsztein, N. Marciano, N. Nathanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


The role of chest computed tomography (CT) in the management of trauma patients is evolving. The present study reviews the chest radiographic and chest CT findings in a group of trauma patients to determine the clinical impact of findings noted exclusively on chest CT. Fifty-five trauma patients examined with chest radiography and chest CT and whose clinical charts were available for review were retrospectively identified. There were 46 men and 9 women, with a mean age of 39 years. The presence (and size) of pneumothorax, hemothorax, pulmonary contusion, and fractures was tabulated for the chest radiographs and CT scans. The presence of mediastinal widening on chest radiographs and all mediastinal findings on CT were noted. The results of aortography, when applicable, were correlated. The clinical charts were reviewed to assess the impact of CT findings on patient management. Pneumothorax (P < 0.05), hemothorax (P < 0.05), pulmonary contusions, and fractures were noted more frequently on chest CT than on chest radiography. However, clinical management was affected in only three (5%) of these patients. Chest CT findings related to the mediastinum affected patient management in 13 (24 %) patients. CT obviated the need for aortography in 7 of 10 patients with mediastinal widening on chest radiographs. Six other patients had aortography, four for mediastinal hematoma with a normal- appearing aorta on contrast medium-enhanced CT, and two for mediastinal hematoma and aortic injury on CT. Despite detection of significantly more pneumothoraces and hemothoraces on chest CT, clinical management was affected in only a small minority (5%) of cases. CT did prove useful in evaluating the mediastinum, obviating the need for aortography in 7 of 10 patients with a widened mediastinum on chest radiography and accurately diagnosing the presence and site of aortic injury in the two patients with that diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-230
Number of pages6
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1996



  • Aorta
  • Computed tomography
  • Pneumothorax
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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