, Volume 10, Issue 10, pp 1524-1538

Imaging of blunt chest trauma

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In western European countries most blunt chest traumas are associated with motor vehicle and sport-related accidents. In Switzerland, 39 of 10,000 inhabitants were involved and severely injured in road accidents in 1998. Fifty two percent of them suffered from blunt chest trauma. According to the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics, traumas represented in men the fourth major cause of death (4 %) after cardiovascular disease (38 %), cancer (28 %), and respiratory disease (7 %) in 1998. The outcome of chest trauma patients is determined mainly by the severity of the lesions, the prompt appropriate treatment delivered on the scene of the accident, the time needed to transport the patient to a trauma center, and the immediate recognition of the lesions by a trained emergency team. Other determining factors include age as well as coexisting cardiac, pulmonary, and renal diseases. Our purpose was to review the wide spectrum of pathologies related to blunt chest trauma involving the chest wall, pleura, lungs, trachea and bronchi, aorta, aortic arch vessels, and diaphragm. A particular focus on the diagnostic impact of CT is demonstrated.