Blunt Cardiac Trauma


      The incidence of cardiac injury after blunt chest trauma is difficult to determine and ranges from 8% to 76%. Moreover, the clinical presentation varies tremendously without a real gold standard to exclude or document cardiac involvement. Electrocardiogram as a single test is not sensitive or specific for diagnosing cardiac contusion. Furthermore, creatine kinase MB is non-reliable in the setting of severe trauma involving the liver, intestines or diaphragm. Although troponins T and I are highly specific for cardiac injury, their sensitivity in the setting of trauma is poor. The echocardiogram is very useful in the evaluation of trauma patients with suspected cardiac involvement. However, poor windows in the setting of chest and lung injuries and in intubated patients might be a major problem limiting the accuracy of transthoracic echocardiogram. On the other hand, transesophageal echocardiogram seems to be more sensitive and specific in trauma patients and should be the test of choice in patients with high clinical suspicion for blunt cardiac trauma.


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      Linked Article

      • Confronting Blunt Cardiac Trauma
        Journal of Emergency MedicineVol. 47Issue 5
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          I read with great interest the article by El-Chami et al. on blunt cardiac trauma (1). The authors explored the diagnosis and management of several forms of blunt cardiac trauma. Given the remarkable frequency of cardiac contusion in blunt chest trauma patients, especially those involved in motor vehicle accidents, I would like to comment on some of the issues raised in this well-written article.
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