Surgical residents' interpretation of diagnostic radiologic imaging in the traumatically injured patient

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Senior surgical residents are of paramount importance in directing further therapeutic modalities based on their interpretation of critical diagnostic imaging. We propose that senior surgical residents are proficient with interpreting radiologic imaging studies in the trauma patient.

METHODS

A prospective cohort study was performed comparing surgery resident interpretations of computed tomography (CT) scans of the head, maxillofacial bones, spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar), chest, abdomen, pelvis, and chest X-rays versus final radiologists' reports at a Level II trauma center from September 2014 to May 2015. A Cohen κ coefficient and a statistical analysis of variance testing were used to make multiple comparisons of the data.

RESULTS

There were 951 trauma alerts activated in the period stated. Of these, 860 met our age inclusion criteria (age, > 18 years). There were 204 images included with an overall accuracy of 81.3%. Residents were more than 70% successful interpreting seven of nine categories. They achieved an accuracy of 84.6%, 62.5%, and 75% in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine categories, respectively. Forty-one of 50 CT scans of the head were interpreted correctly. Maxillofacial CT scans proved to be the weakest category, with only 50% read accurately. In regard to CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis, 80% proficiency was achieved. Abdominal x-rays were read correctly in all instances and chest x-rays 83.3%. On κ analysis, there was an overall moderate agreement between the two groups with K = 0.449, and an overall p less than 0.0005 (Table 1). A perfect agreement existed with abdominal x-rays.

CONCLUSION

Senior surgical residents are capable of interpreting critical images obtained in the trauma setting. When discordance existed with attending radiologists' interpretation, it did not change the clinical outcome or result in any critically missed findings.

Level of Evidence

Therapeutic/Care Management study, Level IV.

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