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European Radiology

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 431–442 | Cite as

Imaging of acute traumatic injuries of the thoracic aorta

  • Max Wintermark
  • Stefan Wicky
  • Pierre Schnyder
Vascular-Interventional

Abstract.

Blunt traumatic aortic injuries are a major concern in the settings of high-speed deceleration accidents, since they are associated with a very high mortality rate; however, with prompt diagnosis and surgery, 70% of the patients with a blunt aortic lesion who reach the hospital alive will survive. This statement challenges the emergency radiologist in charge to evaluate the admission radiological survey in a severe chest trauma patient. With a 95% negative predictive value for the identification of blunt traumatic aortic lesions, plain chest film represents an adequate screening test. If aortography remains the gold standard, it tends, at least in hemodynamically stable trauma patients, to be replaced by spiral-CT angiography (SCTA), which demonstrates a 96.2% sensitivity, a 99.8% specificity, and a 99.7% accuracy. In unstable patients, trans-esophageal echography (TEE) plays a major diagnostic role. Knowledge of advantages and pitfalls of these imaging techniques, as reviewed in this article, will help the emergency radiologist to choose the appropriate algorithm in the diagnosis of traumatic aortic injury, for each trauma patient.

Wounds and injuries Thoracic injuries Aortic rupture Diagnostic imaging X-ray CT Emergency treatment 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Wintermark
    • 1
  • Stefan Wicky
    • 1
  • Pierre Schnyder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University Hospital, CHUV–BH10, 1011 Lausanne, SwitzerlandSwitzerland

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