Imaging of Blunt Aortic and Great Vessel Trauma


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Abstract

Summary:The thoracic aorta and great vessels are at risk of injury by both blunt and penetrating trauma. High-speed deceleration injury, predominately caused by motor vehicle accidents, is the primary cause of blunt traumatic aortic injury (TAI). Though largely fatal if untreated, these injuries are amenable to surgical repair if appropriately diagnosed. Algorithms for both diagnosis and treatment of TAI have undergone changes in recent years. Radiologic imaging plays a key role in the evaluation of TAI, and this review focuses on the relative roles of chest radiography, computed tomography (CT) (particularly helical CT), and aortography in the diagnostic algorithm for TAI. Other aortic imaging methods have been used in the setting of TAI, such as transesophageal echocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging, and intravascular ultrasound; although these techniques may play a complementary role in TAI evaluation, they are unlikely to have as significant an impact on routine radiologic practice as will CT.

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