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Radiographics. 2008 Oct;28(6):1603-16. doi: 10.1148/rg.286085522.

Multidetector CT evaluation of active extravasation in blunt abdominal and pelvic trauma patients.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging, Memorial Hermann Hospital, University of Texas Houston School of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030-1503, USA.


Timely localization of a bleeding source can improve the efficacy of trauma management, and improvements in the technology of computed tomography (CT) have expedited the work-up of the traumatized patient. The classic pattern of active extravasation (ie, administered contrast agent that has escaped from injured arteries, veins, or urinary tract) at dual phase CT is a jet or focal area of hyperattenuation within a hematoma that fades into an enlarged, enhanced hematoma on delayed images. This finding indicates significant bleeding and must be quickly communicated to the clinician, since potentially lifesaving surgical or endovascular repair may be necessary. Active extravasation can be associated with other injuries to arteries, such as a hematoma or a pseudoaneurysm. Both active extravasation and pseudoaneurysm (unlike bone fragments and dense foreign bodies) change in appearance on delayed images, compared with their characteristics on arterial images. Other clues to the location of vessel injury include lack of vascular enhancement (caused by occlusion or spasm), vessel irregularity, size change (such as occurs with pseudoaneurysm), and an intimal flap (which signifies dissection). The sentinel clot sign is an important clue for locating the bleeding source when other more localizing findings of vessel injury are not present. Timely diagnosis, differentiation of vascular injuries from other findings of trauma, signs of depleted intravascular volume, and localization of vascular injury are important to convey to interventional radiologists or surgeons to improve trauma management.

(c) RSNA, 2008.

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