Systematic review and meta-analysis of immediate total-body computed tomography compared with selective radiological imaging of injured patients

Br J Surg. 2012 Jan;99 Suppl 1:52-8. doi: 10.1002/bjs.7760.


Background: The aim of this review was to assess the value of immediate total-body computed tomography (CT) during the primary survey of injured patients compared with conventional radiographic imaging supplemented with selective CT.

Methods: A systematic search of the literature was performed in MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science and Cochrane Library databases. Reports were eligible if they contained original data comparing immediate total-body CT with conventional imaging supplemented with selective CT in injured patients. The main outcomes of interest were overall mortality and time in the emergency room (ER).

Results: Four studies were included describing a total of 5470 patients; one study provided 4621 patients (84.5 per cent). All four studies were non-randomized cohort studies with retrospective data collection. Mortality was reported in three studies. Absolute mortality rates differed substantially between studies, but within studies mortality rates were comparable between immediate total-body CT and conventional imaging strategies (pooled odds ratio 0.91, 95 per cent confidence interval 0.79 to 1.05). Time in the ER was described in three studies, and in two was significantly shorter in patients who underwent immediate total-body CT: 70 versus 104 min (P = 0.025) and 47 versus 82 min (P < 0.001) respectively.

Conclusion: This review showed differences in time in the ER in favour of immediate total-body CT during the primary trauma survey compared with conventional radiographic imaging supplemented with selective CT. There were no differences in mortality. The substantial reduction in time in the ER is a promising feature of immediate total-body CT but well designed and larger randomized studies are needed to see how this will translate into clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / mortality
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods*
  • Whole Body Imaging / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality