The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of helical computed tomography (CT) to detect arterial injuries in gunshot wounds to the neck. In a blinded retrospective review, 54 helical CT scans of the cervical spine were evaluated for bullet/bone fragments, subcutaneous air, bullet path, hematoma, spine fractures, and pharyngoesophageal compromise. The distance of fragments to a major vessel was calculated. CT findings that correlated significantly with major arterial injury included the presence of fragments (bullet/bone) close to a major vessel (2.5 mm) and spine fractures. Visualizing fragments <5 mm from a vessel or a transcervical bullet trajectory predicted 12 of 13 major arterial injuries. We conclude that CT clearly depicts anatomic damage. Specific findings, such as the location of fragments and bullet trajectory adjacent to a vessel and spine fractures, indicate a higher probability of vascular damage, thus directing more definitive evaluation.
- Gunshot wounds
- Vascular injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging