Myocardial contusion secondary to nonpenetrating chest trauma can occur in the absence of any identifiable large vessel coronary artery occlusion or injury. It has also been reported in association with coronary artery atheromata, thrombosis, rupture, and fistula formation. After reviewing the clinical and experimental research literature, we conclude that myocardial contusion necrosis results from changes in perfusion of small vessels and the coronary microvasculature. Coronary arteriography and emergency coronary artery bypass surgery do not appear promising as therapeutic modalities to reduce myocardial necrosis in this condition.
More appropriate therapeutic emphasis may result from research efforts to develop pharmacologic interventions to preserve contused myocardium similar to those currently being evaluated in the management of patients with ischemic myocardium secondary to coronary artery disease.