The trauma pan scan: what else do you find?

Am Surg. 2014 Sep;80(9):855-9.


The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of incidental findings in pan-computed tomography (CT) scans of trauma patients and the communication of significant findings requiring follow-up to the patient. A retrospective chart review of adult trauma patients was performed during the period of January 1, 2011, to August 31, 2011. During that period, 990 patient charts were examined and 555 charts were selected based on the inclusion criteria of a pan-CT scan including the head, neck, abdomen/pelvis, and chest. Patient demographics such as age, gender, mechanism of injury, and Injury Severity Score were collected. Nontraumatic incidental findings were analyzed to establish the prevalence of incidental findings among trauma patients. Discharge summaries were also examined for follow-up instructions to determine the effectiveness of communication of the significant findings. Between the 555 pan-CT scans (1759 total scans), 1706 incidental findings were identified with an incidence of 3.1 incidental findings per patient and with the highest concentration of findings occurring in the abdomen/pelvis. The majority of findings were benign including simple renal cysts with a prevalence of 7.7 per cent. However, 282 significant findings were identified that were concerning for possible malignancy or those requiring further evaluation, the most common of which were lung nodules, which accounted for 21.6 per cent of significant findings. However, only 32.6 per cent of significant findings were documented as reported to the patient. With the use of pan scans on trauma patients, many incidental findings have been identified to the benefit of the patient. The majority of these are clinically insignificant; however, only 32.6 per cent of potentially significant findings were communicated to the patient. The advantage of early detection comes from proper communication and this study demonstrates that there could be improvement in conveying findings to the patient.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disclosure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diverticulum / diagnostic imaging
  • Diverticulum / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hernia / diagnostic imaging
  • Hernia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic / diagnostic imaging
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sinusitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Sinusitis / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data*
  • Virginia
  • Whole Body Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Young Adult