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The additional value of the arterial phase in the CT assessment of liver vascular injuries after high-energy blunt trauma



In the literature, no consensus exists about which CT protocol is to be adopted in patients who underwent high-energy blunt trauma. The aim of the study is to evaluate the additional value of the arterial phase in the CT assessment of vascular injuries of the liver.


Admission CT examinations for patients with traumatic injury of the liver due to high-energy blunt trauma, performed between 2011 and 2017 in two major trauma centres, were retrospectively reviewed. Images were analysed for presence or absence of liver parenchymal injury, intrahepatic contained vascular injuries and active bleeding in the arterial and portal venous phase of the CT study.


Two hundred twelve patients have been identified. Parenchymal injuries were detected as isolated in 90.6% of cases, whereas they were associated with vascular injuries in 9.4% of cases: contained vascular injuries in 3.3% and active bleeding in 6.1%. Out of all parenchymal injuries detected on the CT portal venous phase, 90.5% were also detectable in the arterial phases (p < 0.0001). All of the contained vascular injuries were visible in the CT arterial phase, whereas they were detectable in 28.5% of cases also during the venous phase (p = 0.02). All 13 cases of active bleeding were detected on the CT venous phase, and 76.9% of these cases were also revealed in the arterial phase, thus confirming their arterial origin (p = 0.22).


The addiction of the arterial phase to the venous phase in the CT assessment of patients who underwent high-energy blunt trauma allows an accurate identification and characterization of traumatic vascular injuries, so distinguishing between patients suitable for conservative management and those requiring interventional or surgical treatment.

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Correspondence to Francesca Iacobellis.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Due to the retrospective nature of the study, an informed consent was not pursued.

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Iacobellis, F., Scaglione, M., Brillantino, A. et al. The additional value of the arterial phase in the CT assessment of liver vascular injuries after high-energy blunt trauma. Emerg Radiol 26, 647–654 (2019).

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  • CT protocol
  • Blunt trauma
  • Liver trauma
  • Liver pseudoaneurysm
  • Active bleeding