Chest radiography in thoracic polytrauma

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OBJECTIVE. Chest radiography is the first-line imaging examination for assessment of thoracic polytrauma, serving to evaluate the extent of injury and facilitate early triage to observation, further imaging, or immediate surgical intervention. The objective of this article is to review the spectrum of injuries that occur in the chest and upper abdomen after blunt and penetrating trauma. Pathophysiology, imaging findings, and management recommendations will be discussed for injuries to the chest wall, diaphragm, pleura, lungs, mediastinum, heart, aorta, and great vessels. CONCLUSION. Chest radiography plays an important role in the initial evaluation of blunt and penetrating chest trauma, providing rapid imaging information to supplement the history and physical examination. In the emergency department, familiarity with the spectrum of injuries that can occur in the chest and upper abdomen is important for accurate interpretation of chest radiographs as well as establishment of appropriate recommendations for management and follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-612
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Blunt injury
  • Chest
  • Penetrating injury
  • Thoracic radiography
  • Trauma


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