Cardiac contusion in blunt chest trauma: a combined study of transesophageal echocardiography and cardiac troponin I determination

Ital Heart J. 2001 Mar;2(3):222-7.


Background: The role of cardiac troponin I (cTnI) is well established in acute myocardial ischemia. However, its role in myocardial contusion remains to be clarified. Since transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) appears, at present, to be the best method for the diagnosis of myocardial contusion, the aim of this study was to measure the concentration of cTnI in patients with blunt chest trauma studied using TEE.

Methods: Thirty-two patients (27 males, 5 females, mean age 44+/-20 years), admitted to the Trauma Center of our Institution with clinical and/or radiological signs of acute blunt chest trauma, underwent biplane TEE within 24 hours of injury; serial blood samples were taken to measure cTnI levels (normal values < 0.4 ng/ml), using fluorimetric enzyme immunoassay.

Results: Abnormal levels of cTnI were found in 17 patients (53%): 7 patients had levels of cTnI between 0.4 and 1 ng/ml, whereas 10 patients had levels > 1 ng/ml. Segmental wall motion abnormalities consistent with myocardial contusion could be identified by echocardiography in 6/10 patients with cTnI levels > 1 ng/ml (60%) but in no patients with normal cTnI levels or with titers between 0.4 and 1 ng/ml; mean cTnI levels showed a significant difference between the two groups of patients with and without echocardiographic signs of myocardial contusion (2.6+/-1.6 vs 0.6+/-1.4 ng/ml, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Abnormal titers of cTnI suggesting myocardial contusion may be found in more than half of patients with blunt chest trauma; however, myocardial injury can be detected by TEE only for cTnI levels > 1 ng/ml; cTnI concentrations ranging between 0.4 and 1 ng/ml might be indicative of myocardial microlesions, not detectable by echocardiography, even if TEE is used; cTnI assay could therefore be suggested as a screening test before performing TEE after blunt chest trauma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Injuries / blood*
  • Heart Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Trauma Centers
  • Troponin I / analysis*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / blood*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging*


  • Biomarkers
  • Troponin I