Prospective study of computed tomography in initial management of blunt abdominal trauma

J Trauma. 1986 Jul;26(7):585-92. doi: 10.1097/00005373-198607000-00001.


Physical examination is often unreliable in the evaluation of blunt abdominal trauma. The utility of computed tomography (CT) in the early management of abdominal trauma in the absence of definite signs is controversial. CT was prospectively evaluated as an adjunct to physical examination in the initial assessment of blunt abdominal trauma. Indications for emergency abdominal CT were a stable patient with an equivocal abdominal examination, closed head injury, spinal cord injury, hematuria, or pelvic fracture. One hundred twenty patients were studied. CT was accurate in 98.3% of these patients. With associated head injury, combining head and abdominal CT proved to be expeditious. Splenic, hepatic, and renal injuries were reliably detected with CT. Minor injuries which did not require laparotomy were reliably diagnosed. Patients with acute pancreatic injuries may have normal CT findings. Eighty-six per cent of laparotomies were therapeutic. In conjunction with close clinical monitoring, CT was reliable in evaluation of blunt abdominal trauma in a selected group of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diatrizoate Meglumine
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iothalamate Meglumine
  • Laparotomy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging*


  • Diatrizoate Meglumine
  • Iothalamate Meglumine