Blunt thoracic trauma: role of chest radiography and comparison with CT - findings and literature review
Karunesh Polireddy, Carrie Hoff, Nikhar P Kinger, Andrew Tran, Kiran Maddu
Emerg Radiol . 2022 Aug;29(4):743-755. doi: 10.1007/s10140-022-02061-1. Epub 2022 May 21.
In the setting of acute trauma where identification of critical injuries is time-sensitive, a portable chest radiograph is broadly accepted as an initial diagnostic test for identifying benign and life-threatening pathologies and guiding further imaging and interventions. This article describes chest radiographic findings associated with various injuries resulting from blunt chest trauma and compares the efficacy of the chest radiograph in these settings with computed tomography (CT). Common chest radiographic findings in blunt thoracic injuries will be reviewed to improve radiologic identification, expedite management, and improve trauma morbidity and mortality. This article discusses demographic information, mechanism of specific injuries, common imaging findings, imaging pearls, and pitfalls and exhibits several classic imaging findings in blunt chest trauma. Thoracic structures commonly injured in blunt trauma that will be discussed in this article include vasculature structures (aortic trauma), the heart (cardiac contusion, pericardial effusion), the esophagus (esophageal perforation), pleural space and airways (pneumothorax, hemothorax, bronchial injury), lungs (pulmonary contusion), the diaphragm (diaphragmatic rupture), and the chest wall (flail chest). Chest radiography plays an important role in the initial evaluation of blunt chest trauma. While CT imaging has a higher sensitivity than chest radiography, it remains a valuable tool due to its ability to provide rapid diagnostic information in time-sensitive trauma situations and is ubiquitously available in the trauma bay. Familiarity with the gamut of injuries that may occur as well as identification of the associated chest radiograph findings can aid in timely diagnoses and prompt management in the setting of acute blunt chest trauma.
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