University of Oulu

Computed tomography in diagnostics and treatment decisions concerning multiple trauma and critically ill patients

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Author: Ahvenjärvi, Lauri1,2,3
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Diagnostics, Department of Diagnostic Radiology
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Anaesthesiology, Division of Intensive Care
3Oulu University Hospital, Department of Infection Control
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2010
Publish Date: 2010-04-06
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Oulu for public defence in Auditorium 7 of Oulu University Hospital, on 16 April 2010, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Docent Erkki Kentala
Docent Seppo Koskinen


Technical improvements in computed tomography (CT) scanners have provided new possibilities to exploit the resources of this imaging modality in the evaluation of patients with multiple injuries or patients being treated in an intensive care unit (ICU). The purpose of this study was to assess the significance of multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) in diagnostics and treatment decisions concerning multiple trauma and critically ill patients.

Findings of MDCT using a dedicated trauma protocol in 133 patients exposed to high-energy blunt trauma were retrospectively evaluated. Diagnostic information about the injuries that would enable planning of treatment was sought. The imaging protocol consisted of axial scanning of the head and helical scanning of the facial bones, cervical spine, thorax, abdomen, and pelvis. Ninety-nine of the patients (74%) had at least one finding consistent with trauma. Nineteen false negative findings and two false positive findings were made. The overall sensitivity of MDCT was 94%, specificity 100%, and accuracy 97%.

The reliability of a structured 5-min evaluation of MDCT images from the scanner’s console was prospectively evaluated in 40 high-energy trauma patients. The dedicated trauma protocol covering the thorax, abdomen, and pelvis was used in MDCT scanning. The findings were compared with the final radiological diagnosis of the MDCT data made on a picture archiving and communicating system (PACS) workstation, the operative findings, and the clinical follow-up. The evaluation from the scanner’s console enabled diagnosis of all potentially life-threatening injuries, the sensitivity for all injuries being 60% and specificity 98%.

The effects of MDCT on the treatment of patients in a 12-bed medical-surgical ICU were observed prospectively. Sixty-four patients with an ICU stay longer than 48 h had had inconclusive findings with other modalities of radiological imaging. They underwent altogether 82 MDCT examinations. Fifty examinations (61%) resulted in a change in treatment, and 20 (24%) of them otherwise contributed to or supported clinical decision-making. Twelve examinations (15%) failed to provide any additional information relevant to the patient’s treatment. MDCT examination was helpful in general ICU patients, with inconclusive findings with other imaging modalities.

CT images of 127 mixed medical-surgical ICU patients were retrospectively reviewed for the previously determined findings. Forty-three of these patients underwent open cholecystectomy, revealing eight cases with a normal gallbladder (GB), 26 with an edematous GB, and nine with necrotic acute acalculous cholecystitis (AAC). Abnormal CT findings were present in 96% of all the ICU patients. Higher bile density in the GB body and subserosal edema were associated with an edematous GB. The most specific findings predicting necrotic AAC were gas in the GB wall or lumen, lack of GB wall enhancement, and edema around the GB. The frequent prevalence of nonspecific abnormal imaging findings in the GB of ICU patients limits the diagnostic value of CT scanning.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 978-951-42-6149-7
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-6148-0
Issue: 1048
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2010. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.