News | June 03, 2007

Radiological Test Saves Time And Lives

June 4, 2007 — A new radiological test, used to detect acute coronary trauma has the ability to save valuable time and lives in trauma centers.

The contrast-enhanced 64-multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) that reveals acute trauma to the aorta does not need confirmation from invasive catheter angiography, according to findings from the new Medical University of South Carolina study.

Time is of the essence in evaluating acutely injured patients. This is especially true in the diagnosis of aortic injuries, said Scott Steenburg, M.D., a radiology resident at the MUSC and lead author of a study investigating he test.

"Coming up with a definitive diagnosis of aortic injury takes only minutes with 64-MDCT without the need for mobilizing an angiography team. This allows the trauma and cardiothoracic surgeons to begin treatment almost immediately. For the patient, this means saving precious time as morbidity and mortality increase dramatically for untreated aortic injuries, even with only a few hours of delay," Steenburg said.

During a period of 18 months, study authors reviewed 581 patients who were imaged for suspicion of aortic injury. Of the 581 patients, 16 were accurately diagnosed with the injury using MDCT (15 from car collisions, and one from a fall). Of the original 581 patents, a total of 10 catheter angiograms were performed after positive, negative, or equivocal diagnoses on MDCT. The authors discovered that the findings correlated between the two imaging methods in all 10 of those cases.

According to the study authors, MDCT has become the standard for rapid imaging evaluation of trauma patients, and is excellent in general for evaluating the aorta for injuries.

"Since March 2005, practically every trauma patient seen in our trauma center gets some imaging with our 64-MDCT scanner; however, we knew of no study showing the effectiveness of 64-MDCT for aortic injuries," Steenburg said. "Recently, our surgeons have been taking these patients with evidence of aortic injuries directly to surgery, and we wanted to look back at the data to see how well we were doing with 64-MDCT."

The results of the study were presented during the May 7 American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting.

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