Determining injuries from posterior and flank stab wounds using computed tomography tractography
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Unlike anterior stab wounds (SW), in which local exploration may direct management, posterior SW can be challenging to evaluate. Traditional triple contrast computed tomography (CT) imaging is cumbersome and technician-dependent. The present study examines the role of CT tractography as a strategy to manage select patients with back and flank SW. Hemodynamically stable patients with back and flank SW were studied. After resuscitation, Betadine- or Visipaque-soaked sterile sponges were inserted into each SW for the estimated depth of the wound. Patients underwent abdominal helical CT scanning, including intravenous contrast, as the sole abdominal imaging study. Images were reviewed by an attending radiologist and trauma surgeon. The tractogram was evaluated to determine SW trajectory and injury to intra- or retroperitoneal organs, vascular structures, the diaphragm, and the urinary tract. Complete patient demographics including operative management and injuries were collected. Forty-one patients underwent CT tractography. In 11 patients, tractography detected violation of the intra- or retroperitoneal cavity leading to operative exploration. Injuries detected included: the spleen (two), colon (one), colonic mesentery (one), kidney (kidney), diaphragm (kidney), pneumothorax (seven), hemothorax (two), iliac artery (one), and traumatic abdominal wall hernia (two). In all patients, none had negative CT findings that failed observation. In this series, CT tractography is a safe and effective imaging strategy to evaluate posterior torso SW. It is unknown whether CT tractography is superior to traditional imaging modalities. Other uses for CT tractography may include determining trajectory from missile wounds and tangential penetrating injuries.
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