Limiting thoracic CT: A rule for use during initial pediatric trauma evaluation

Caroline Q. Stephens, Meredith C. Boulos, Christopher R. Connelly, Arvin Gee, Mubeen Jafri, Sanjay Krishnaswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Despite increases in imaging guidelines for other body-regions during initial trauma assessment and the demonstrated utility of chest radiographs (CXR), guidelines for use of thoracic computed-tomography (TCT) are lacking. We hypothesized that TCT utilization had not decreased relative to other protocolized CTs, and mechanism and CXR could together predict significant injury independent of TCT. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of blunt trauma patients ≤. 18 y.o. (2007-2015) at two level-1 trauma centers who received chest imaging. Baseline characteristics and incidences of body region-specific CT were compared. Injury mechanism, intrathoracic pathology, and interventions among other data were examined (significance: p. <. 0.05). Results: Although other body-region CT incidence decreased (p. <. 0.05), TCT incidence did not change (p = 0.65). Of the 2951 patients, 567 had both CXR and TCT, 933 received TCT-only, and 1451 had CXR-only. TCT altered management in 17 patients: 2 operations, 1 stent-placement, 1 medical management, 9 thoracostomy tube placements, and 4 negative diagnostic workups. All clinically significant changes were predicted by vehicle-related mechanism and abnormal CXR findings. Conclusions: TCT utilization has not decreased over time. All meaningful interventions were predicted by CXR and mechanism of injury. We propose a rule, for prospective validation, reserving TCT for patients with abnormal CXR findings and severe vehicle-related trauma. Level of evidence: Diagnostic study, Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Chest X-ray
  • Pediatric blunt trauma
  • Thoracic CT
  • Thoracic trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Limiting thoracic CT: A rule for use during initial pediatric trauma evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this