Anatomic and cardiopulmonary responses to trauma with associated blunt chest injury

J Trauma. 1981 Jan;21(1):1-12. doi: 10.1097/00005373-198101000-00001.


Myocardial dysfunction may result from severe trauma. Therefore, left (LV) and right ventricular (RV) function were prospectively assessed by ECG-gated blood pool radionuclide (RN) angiography in 25 consecutive patients who had sustained severe trauma including blunt chest injuries. Focal abnormalities of RV and LV wall motion were defined in 17 patients; 12, RV; two, LV; and three, biventricular. In two patients traumatic tricuspid insufficiency was also demonstrated, and subsequently verified by contrast angiography. Other means to detect myocardial contusion (enzymatic, electrocardiographic, and Tc-99m pyrophosphate scintigraphy) proved to be insensitive when compared to RN angiography. Two of the five deaths in the group were attributed to refractory arrhythmias. Surgical or post-mortem evidence of traumatic myocardial injury was obtained in five instances when RN angiography indicated contusion. Of the 13 patients available for followup examinations, 11 showed complete or partial resolution of the abnormality and two were unchanged. Comprehensive cardiopulmonary monitoring revealed an inverse relationship between right ventricular ejection fraction (RVEF) and pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) (R2 = 0.42; p < 0.01) and between the PVR and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) (R2 = 0.48; p < 0.01) and left ventricular end-diastolic volume (LVEDV) (R2 = 0.69; p < 0.01). Further, as right ventricular end-diastolic volume (RVEDV) was increased in trauma, left ventricular function and compliance were reduced. In blunt chest trauma RV contusion occurs more frequently than previously recognized and positive RN angiography constitutes prima facie evidence of direct myocardial injury. Further, LV function remains preload dependent, but may be depressed by elevated PVR impeding the blood flow from RV to LV and/or decreases in LV compliance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Angiography / methods*
  • Contusions / diagnostic imaging
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Injuries / etiology
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Contraction
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Technetium
  • Thoracic Injuries / complications*
  • Tin Polyphosphates
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications*


  • Tin Polyphosphates
  • Technetium