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Intensive Care Med. 2003 May;29(5):770-3. Epub 2003 Apr 8.

Influence of medical speciality and experience on interpretation of helicoidal thoracic computed tomography in blunt chest trauma.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Charles Nicolle University Hospital, CHU-Hôpitaux de Rouen 1, rue de Germont, 76031 Rouen, France.



To compare the quality of interpretation of chest helicoidal computed tomography (HCT) by physicians with different levels of experience and medical specialty.


Prospective observational study.


Trauma critical care unit at a French university hospital (US equivalent: level 1).


HCT of 50 consecutive patients with blunt chest trauma were assessed by four groups of physicians [residents in anaesthesiology (n=5), residents in radiology (n=5), senior anaesthesiologists (n=5), and senior radiologists (n=5)]. Interpretation from each physician was compared with a grid obtained from an expert interpretation by a senior radiologist and a senior anaesthesiologist.




No group of observers performed better than another in their interpretation of lung and parietal injuries on HCT. In contrast, senior radiologists were better than anaesthesiologists for the diagnosis of pneumomediastin. However, residents in radiology performed better than other physicians in detecting the presence of gastric and tracheal tubes.


Compared with anaesthesiologists, senior radiologists seem more expert in the diagnosis of HCT mediastinal injuries whereas residents in radiology were better at detecting resuscitation materials in thoracic trauma patients. This article reinforces the usefulness of the interpretation of the HCT by a senior radiologist in the case of blunt chest trauma. This also reinforces the usefulness of an aspect team of radiologists and anaesthesiologists in the case of trauma. The logical usefulness of a systematic interpretation of the images should be borne in mind.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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