Penetrating torso trauma: triple-contrast helical CT in peritoneal violation and organ injury--a prospective study in 200 patients

Radiology. 2004 Jun;231(3):775-84. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2313030126. Epub 2004 Apr 22.


Purpose: To assess the accuracy of computed tomography (CT) in demonstrating the presence or absence of peritoneal violation and type of intraperitoneal organ injury, if any, in hemodynamically stable patients with penetrating torso trauma but without definite peritoneal signs or radiographic evidence of free intraperitoneal air.

Materials and methods: During a 29-month period, helical CT with oral, rectal, and intravenous contrast material (triple-contrast) was performed in 200 hemodynamically stable patients, including 169 men (age range, 15-85 years; mean age, 31 years) and 31 women (age range, 17-45 years; mean age, 28 years) with penetrating torso trauma. The study group included 86 patients with gunshot wounds, 111 with stab wounds, and three impaled by sharp objects. CT scans were evaluated prospectively by three trauma radiologists for evidence of peritoneal violation to determine injury to intra- or retroperitoneal solid organs, bowel, mesentery, vascular structures, diaphragm, and urinary tract. Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of CT in the diagnosis of peritoneal violation were determined.

Results: CT findings aided diagnosis of peritoneal violation in 34% of patients (68 of 200) and were negative for peritoneal violation in 66% of patients (132 of 200). Two patients with negative CT findings failed to improve with observation and underwent therapeutic laparotomy. CT had 97% sensitivity (66 of 68 findings), 98% specificity (130 of 132 findings), and 98% accuracy (196 of 200 findings) for peritoneal violation. CT aided diagnosis of 28 hepatic, 34 bowel or mesenteric, seven splenic, and six renal injuries. Laparotomy based on CT findings in 38 patients was considered therapeutic in 87% (33 of 38) and nontherapeutic in 8% (three of 38) and had negative results in 5% (two of 38).

Conclusion: Triple-contrast helical CT accurately demonstrates peritoneal violation and visceral injury in patients with penetrating torso wounds.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritoneal Cavity / diagnostic imaging*
  • Peritoneal Cavity / injuries*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thoracic Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Spiral Computed*
  • Viscera / diagnostic imaging
  • Viscera / injuries*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Penetrating / diagnostic imaging*
  • Wounds, Stab / diagnostic imaging


  • Contrast Media