OBJECTIVE. CT plays a crucial role in the evaluation of stable patients with blunt and penetrating trauma in the emergency department. Among the more severe injuries that may occur in penetrating and blunt trauma are those to the inferior vena cava (IVC). The purpose of this study was to evaluate and differentiate the CT fndings associated with penetrating versus blunt trauma to the IVC to aid the radiologist in diagnosing IVC injuries. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Cases of blunt and penetrating IVC injury were retrospectively identifed using search queries. Criteria for inclusion were preoperative contrastenhanced CT and surgically confrmed caval injury or direct fndings of caval injury on CT with patient death before surgical confrmation could be obtained. RESULTS. Twelve cases of traumatic IVC injury were identifed over a 9-year period: six blunt and six penetrating. The most common fnding was a retroperitoneal hematoma, seen in 75% of cases. Eighty-three percent of blunt injuries were associated with hepatic lacerations and contrast material extravasation. Thirty-three percent of penetrating IVC injuries were associated with extravasation. Contour abnormalities were seen in 50% of blunt and 17% of penetrating injuries to the IVC. All three cases of IVC injury resulting in mortality occurred in the retrohepatic segment. CONCLUSION. Injury to the IVC is frequently fatal in patients with penetrating or blunt trauma. The CT appearance of IVC injury is dichotomous between the two causes, with blunt IVC injury more likely to show extravasation, contour abnormality, and associated hepatic laceration. Injury of the retrohepatic IVC portends a poor outcome. With the continued use of CT for evaluation of trauma patients, the radiologist should be familiar with IVC injury and its different CT appearances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-711
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2016


  • Blunt trauma
  • CT
  • Inferior vena cava
  • Penetrating trauma


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