Computed tomography of blunt and penetrating diaphragmatic injury: Sensitivity and inter-observer agreement of CT Signs

Mark M. Hammer, Eric Flagg, Vincent M. Mellnick, Kristopher W. Cummings, Sanjeev Bhalla, Constantine A. Raptis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Diaphragmatic injury is an uncommon but clinically important entity in the setting of trauma. Computed tomography (CT) is widely used to evaluate hemodynamically stable trauma patients. While prior studies have identified CT signs of diaphragm injury in blunt or penetrating trauma, no study has directly compared signs across these two types of injuries. We identified patients with surgically proven diaphragm injuries who underwent CT at presentation. Three reviewers examined each for 12 signs of diaphragm injury, as well as for an overall impression of diaphragm injury. We reviewed a total of 84 patients (37% blunt trauma, 63% penetrating). The initial interpreting radiologists discovered 77% of blunt and 47% of penetrating injuries (p = 0.01). We found that the majority of signs of diaphragmatic injury were split between those common in blunt trauma and those common in penetrating trauma, with minimal overlap. The presence of at least one blunt injury sign has 90% sensitivity for diaphragm injury in blunt trauma; the presence of a wound tract traversing the diaphragm has 92% sensitivity in penetrating trauma. Inter-observer reliability of these signs is also high (κ > 0.65). Penetrating diaphragm injuries present a different spectrum of imaging findings from those in blunt trauma and are underdiagnosed at CT; looking for a wound tract traversing the diaphragm is highly sensitive for diaphragm injury in these cases. Signs of organ or diaphragm fragment displacement are sensitive for blunt diaphragm injuries, consistent with these injuries being caused by increased intra-abdominal pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Blunt trauma
  • Diaphragm injury
  • Emergency radiology
  • Penetrating trauma
  • Trauma

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Computed tomography of blunt and penetrating diaphragmatic injury: Sensitivity and inter-observer agreement of CT Signs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this