Evaluation of computed tomography and diagnostic peritoneal lavage in blunt abdominal trauma

J Trauma. 1989 Aug;29(8):1168-70; discussion 1170-2. doi: 10.1097/00005373-198908000-00017.


Three hundred one hemodynamically stable patients with equivocal abdominal examinations following blunt abdominal trauma had a CT scan followed by DPL. Both studies were negative in 194 patients (71.6%) and positive in 51 patients (27.1%). Seven of the 51 patients (13.7%) had an additional significant injury at operation that was not seen on the CT scan. Nineteen patients had a negative CT scan, a positive DPL, and a significant injury confirmed at celiotomy. In this group of 19 patients, the CT failed to identify seven splenic, three hepatic, and three small bowel injuries. There were two complications attributed to DPL. Three patients had a false negative DPL. Diagnostic peritoneal lavage continues to be a reliable study (sensitivity--95.9%, specificity--99%, accuracy--98.2%). The CT scan is not as sensitive (sensitivity--74.3%, p less than 0.001; specificity--99.5%, accuracy--92.6%). It is concluded that selective use of both procedures is appropriate as long as one recognizes the inherent limitations of each.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritoneal Lavage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnosis*