Ultrasound in cardiac trauma

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In the perioperative period, the emergency department or the intensive care unit accurate assessment of variable chest pain requires meticulous knowledge, diagnostic skills, and suitable usage of various diagnostic modalities. In addition, in polytrauma patients, cardiac injury including aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism, acute myocardial infarction, and pericardial effusion should be immediately revealed and treated. In these patients, arrhythmias, mainly tachycardia, cardiac murmurs, or hypotension must alert physicians to suspect cardiovascular trauma, which would potentially be life threatening.

Ultrasound of the heart using transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography are valuable diagnostic tools that can be used interchangeably in conjunction with other modalities such as the electrocardiogram and computed tomography for the diagnosis of cardiovascular abnormalities in trauma patients. Although ultrasound of the heart is often underused in the setting of trauma, it does have the advantages of being easily accessible, noninvasive, and rapid bedside assessment tool. This review article aims to analyze the potential cardiac injuries in trauma patients, and to provide an elaborate description of the role of echocardiography for their accurate diagnosis.

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