Blunt traumatic injuries of the lung parenchyma, pleura, thoracic wall, and intrathoracic airways: Multidetector computer tomography imaging findings

Guillermo P. Sangster, Aldo González-Beicos, Alberto I. Carbo, Maureen G. Heldmann, Hassan Ibrahim, Patricia Carrascosa, Miguel Nazar, Horacio B. D'Agostino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

58 Scopus citations


This pictorial review discusses multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) cases of non-vascular traumatic chest injuries, with a brief clinical and epidemiological background of each of the pathology. The purpose of this review is to familiarize the reader with common and rare imaging patterns of chest trauma and substantiate the advantages of MDCT as a screening and comprehensive technique for the evaluation of these patients. Images from a level 1 trauma center were reviewed to illustrate these pathologies. Pulmonary laceration, pulmonary hernia, and their different degrees of severity are illustrated as examples of parenchymal traumatic lesions. Pleural space abnormalities (pneumothorax and hemothorax) and associated complications are shown. Diaphragmatic rupture, fracture of the sternum, sternoclavicular dislocation, fracture of the scapula, rib fracture, and flail chest are shown as manifestations of blunt trauma to the chest wall. Finally, direct and indirect imaging findings of intrathoracic airway rupture and post-traumatic foreign bodies are depicted. The advantage of high quality reconstructions, volume rendered images, and maximal intensity projection for the detection of severe complex traumatic injuries is stressed. The limitations of the initial chest radiography and the benefits of MDCT authenticate this imaging technique as the best modality in the diagnosis of chest trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages14
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Blunt trauma
  • Chest
  • Multidetector computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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