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Pneumonol Alergol Pol. 2013;81(6):518-26.

The application of MDCT in the diagnosis of chest trauma.

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Department of Radiology, National Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases in Warsaw.



Traumas are the third most common cause of death worldwide, after cardiovascular diseases and neoplasms, and the main cause of death of patients under 40 years of age. Contemporary image diagnosis of chest trauma uses chest X-ray (CXR), multidetector computed tomography (MDCT), transthoracic and transoesophageal ultrasound (USG), X-ray angiography and magnetic resonance. The aim of the present study was to evaluate MDCT results in the examination of posttraumatic chest injuries and to compare the results of CXR and MDCT in chosen chest traumatic injuries.


The sixty patients with chest trauma included in the study were diagnosed at the Department of Radiology of the Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases between May 2004 and October 2007. MDCT was performed in all patients. Two groups with different types of injury (blunt or penetrating chest trauma) were distinguished. The analysis of injuries in both groups was conducted depending on the mechanism of trauma. The detection of 20 selected injuries at CXR and MDCT was compared. Moreover, the compatibility of MDCT with the results of intraoperative assessment and bronchoscopy was analysed. The influence of MDCT on the treatment modality was also assessed.


History of blunt chest trauma was found in 51 patients (group 1) and of penetrating trauma in 9 patients (group 2). The most frequent injuries among group 1 were lung contusion and rib fractures, and among group 2 it was pericardial hematoma. Compared to MDCT, the sensitivity and specificity of CXR were 66.7 and 58%, respectively. Change of treatment modality was observed after MDCT in 83% of patients. The sensitivity and specificity of MDCT in diagnosing tracheobronchial injury, compared to bronchoscopy, were 72.7% and 100%, respectively. Compatibility of MDCT results and intraoperative assessment was observed in 43% of patients, and the main reason for discrepancy was underdiagnosis of diaphragm injury in MDCT.


MDCT was a valuable diagnostic method in recognition of chest trauma, characterized by high sensitivity and specificity in the assessment of life-threatening injures and for depicting tracheal and bronchial injuries. The diagnostic value of CXR was low. The compatibility of MCTD and intraoperative assessment was confirmed, with the exception of diaphragm injures and lung laceration. Change of treatment modality was certified after MDCT in 83% of patients.

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