Efficacy of computed tomography in the diagnosis of pancreatic injury in adult blunt trauma patients: A single-institutional study

Obeid Ilahi, Grant V. Bochicchio, Thomas M. Scalea

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66 Scopus citations


Blunt trauma to the pancreas is an uncommon injury, which can be difficult to diagnose. Most studies are multi-institutional, include both helical and axial CT, and report sensitivities of 40 to 67 per cent. We evaluated the efficacy of spiral CT for the diagnosis of blunt pancreatic injury in a single large-volume institution. We retrospectively reviewed 22,000 blunt trauma patients seen between 1996 and 2000. Pancreatic injury was identified in 40 patients (0.2%). All patients evaluated with spiral CT were given both oral and intravenous contrast. A total of 40 blunt pancreatic injuries were identified. The mean age was 35 years. Seventy-five per cent were male. Mean Injury Severity Scale score was 29 and overall mortality 12.5 per cent. Thirty-one patients (78%) underwent laparotomy. Twelve patients went directly to the operating room for urgent exploration and 19 had a preoperative CT. CT was positive for pancreatic injury in 13 patients (sensitivity 68%). All 13 patients had confirmed pancreatic injury at the time of surgery (positive predictive value =100%). Using the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma grading system operative findings and CT correlated in 68 per cent of those patients who had both CT and laparotomy. CT underestimated pancreatic injury in the remaining 31 per cent. Nine patients were managed nonoperatively without complication, and six had pancreatic injury on CT. The other three had a negative CT but had clinical and laboratory evidence of pancreatic injury. Overall CT scan was 68 per cent (19 of 28) accurate in diagnosing pancreatic injury. We conclude that CT scan is only moderately sensitive and can underestimate or miss pancreatic injury. Although CT moderately correlated with injury grade it was highly predictive for presence of injury. The new multidetector helical scanner may improve our diagnostic ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-707
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


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