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J Trauma. 1991 Jun;31(6):835-9; discussion 839-40.

Cardiovascular evaluation in blunt thoracic trauma using transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)

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Department of Surgery, St. Louis University Medical Center, MO 63110-0250.


Blunt chest trauma can result in significant cardiothoracic injury, which can include cardiac contusion, aortic injury, and myocardial valvular injury. Nineteen patients with no prior history of cardiac abnormalities who sustained severe blunt chest trauma and had widening of the mediastinum on chest radiographs were prospectively evaluated using transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). In each instance TEE was performed without difficulty, excellent images were obtained of the aorta and heart, and no complications were noted. Abnormalities were seen in 12 (63%) patients, with hypokinetic regional wall motion consistent with cardiac contusion demonstrated in five (26%) patients. Tricuspid regurgitation was found in three (16%) patients, and aortic and mitral regurgitation in one (5%) patient each. Aortic wall hematomas were seen in two patients, one of whom had an intimal tear on aortography, and a pericardial effusion was seen in one patient with an aortic intimal tear confirmed angiographically. Thus TEE can be performed safely in the acute setting of patients sustaining severe blunt chest trauma and yield useful information with respect to cardiovascular function and the aorta.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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