Nonaortic mediastinal injuries from blunt chest trauma

L Ketai, M M Brandt, C Schermer
Journal of Thoracic Imaging 2000, 15 (2): 120-7
In addition to traumatic aortic injuries (TAI), blunt chest trauma may damage other structures in the mediastinum, including the tracheobronchial tree, the heart and pericardium, and rarely the esophagus. Tracheobronchial injuries may be difficult to separate radiographically from accompanying parenchymal lung injuries. Experience with diagnosis by computed tomography (CT) is still limited. Cardiac injuries often require emergent surgery before extensive imaging can be done. Some patients, usually those with chamber ruptures of the right heart, survive long enough to receive a chest CT, at which time hemopericardium can be detected. Upper esophageal injuries may occur in conjunction with lower cervical or upper thoracic spine injures. Distal esophageal injuries are rarely caused by blunt trauma.

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