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Arch Surg. 2006 May;141(5):468-73; discussion 473-5.

Whole body imaging in blunt multisystem trauma patients without obvious signs of injury: results of a prospective study.

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  • 1Division of Trauma and Critical Care, Department of Surgery, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and the Los Angeles County and University of Southern California Medical Center, Los Angeles 90033, USA.



The use of liberal whole body imaging (pan scan) in patients based on mechanism is warranted, even in evaluable patients with no obvious signs of chest or abdominal injury.


Prospective observational study.


Academic level I trauma center.


All patients admitted following blunt multisystem trauma.


Pan scan, including computed tomography (CT) of the head, cervical spine, chest, abdomen, and pelvis, with the following inclusion criteria: (1) no visible evidence of chest or abdominal injury, (2) hemodynamically stable, (3) normal abdominal examination results in a neurologically intact patient or unevaluable abdominal examination results secondary to a depressed level of consciousness, and (4) significant mechanisms of injury. Radiological findings and changes in treatment based on these findings were recorded.


Any alteration in the normal treatment plan as a direct result of CT scan findings. These alterations include early hospital discharge, admission for observation, operative intervention, and additional diagnostic studies or interventions.


One thousand patients underwent pan scan during the 18-month observation period, of which 592 were evaluable patients with no obvious signs of abdominal injury. Clinically significant abnormalities were found in 3.5% of head CT scans, 5.1% of cervical spine CT scans, 19.6% of chest CT scans, and 7.1% of abdominal CT scans. Overall treatment was changed in 18.9% of patients based on abnormal CT scan findings.


The use of pan scan based on mechanism in awake, evaluable patients is warranted. Clinically significant abnormalities are not uncommon, resulting in a change in treatment in nearly 19% of patients.

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